Baroness Catherine Ashton, the EU’s foreign affairs supremo, has called for senior appointments in the EU’s External Action Service to be made on merit. Ashton, herself the second highest paid female politician in the world, endorsed London MEP Marina Yannakoudakis’ stance on staffing quotas for women.

In a reply to a parliamentary question tabled by Mrs. Yannakoudakis, Ashton wrote:

“The basic principle of EEAS selection procedures is merit…in that context, the HR/VP has no current intention to introduce quotas for female staff in any category of staff, including Heads and Deputy Heads of Delegation.”

This stance is likely to put Ashton at odds with her fellow Commission Vice-President Viviane Reding who is planning to set aggressive quotas at the EU level to get women in to top jobs.

London Conservative MEP Marina Yannakoudakis said in response:

“It’s not often that I find myself agreeing with Baroness Ashton, but on quotas she’s got it right. Ashton has made it clear that she wants to hire the best possible people to do the job of representing the EU abroad and, in order to do so, she has ruled out staff quotas for women.”

“I am pleased that there are more women in high positions in the EU External Action Service. Women are just as capable as men, and quotas actually serve to undermine gender equality.”

“The Commission is clearly divided on quotas and I hope that this will mean that it will not table any legislative targets on gender diversity at the EU level.”

Parliamentary Question