By Martin Banks - 20th September 2010
The package [announced by Ashton] does not reflect the wishes of parliament
Senior Polish MEP Jacek Saryusz-Wolski has called for a legally-binding mechanism to ensure gender and geographical balance in the EU's new diplomatic corps.
His demand comes amid mounting criticism of the make-up of the European external action service (EAS).
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton announced the first, and most senior, batch of appointments last Wednesday.
They include 28 heads of EU delegations in various parts of the world, only six of whom are women.
Speaking to this website on Monday, Saryusz-Wolski said that in Strasbourg this week he will press for a 'legally-binding' mechanism to address the gender and geographical balance issue.
The MEP and former chair of parliament's foreign affairs committee will table the proposal at a closed meeting of the foreign affairs committee on Monday.
He said, "I am not satisfied so far with the gender and geographical balance of the EAS.
"The package [announced by Ashton] does not reflect the wishes of parliament.
"Ashton's declared goodwill should be supported by a legally-binding mechanism. This is what I shall be calling for in parliament."
Parliament's Green group has accused Ashton of "reneging" on her pledge to recruit more women into the EEAS.
Franziska Brantner, Greens/EFA foreign affairs co-spokesperson said, "The announcement confirms our fears that the EU's external action service would become an old boys' club.
"Only six of the 28 top jobs have been allocated to women. This distorted recruitment policy is an insult to 250 million European women."
However, more appointments are to follow in the coming weeks and, in a statement issued last week, Ashton said, "I am pleased that we have made a start to address the important issues of geographical and gender balance.
"These appointments show an improvement in both, but there is more to do. I will be discussing with member states how we can continue to improve and achieve my ambition of a service that is truly representative and appointed on merit."
As soon as the 2010 rotation exercise has been concluded, she will start work on the 2011 round of appointments.