Europe’s influential women of 2018

, by Courrier d’Europe - Made in Sorbonne, Sophie Illegems, Translated by Steffi Buchler

Europe's influential women of 2018
Mariya Gabriel, Europan Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, speaks on stage during the Digital-Life-Design Conference at the Alte Bayerische Staatsbank on 22 January 2018 in Munich, Germany. CC Picture alliance / Andreas Gebert

They are heads of government, MEPs or European Commissioners. Powerful and determined, their decisions have shaped the year 2018. Let’s take a look at five influential women in Europe this year.

Theresa May

It’s obvious that the British Prime Minister, Theresa May, had to be mentioned in this article. She became the new Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in July 2016, after the result of the United Kingdom European Union membership referendum, and David Cameron’s resignation. Theresa May, the second female Prime Minister of the UK after Margaret Thatcher, has been charged with the task of managing the withdrawal of the UK from the European Union. A difficult mission, which has led to turbulent and complex negotiations. Indeed, there have been many discords throughout the past two years between London and Brussels, and all is not rosy at the end of this year. In mid-November, London finally reached an agreement on the divorce with Brussels. What is certain is that Theresa May’s mandate is not an easy matter, as the issue is a first within the EU. As she unshakably declared during a press conference: “Am I going to see this through? Yes.”

Emma Bonino

Born in Bra, Italy, in 1948, Emma Bonino has been referred to as “legendary figure” by the Financial Times. At the beginning of the 1970s, as a young graduate, she fought for abortion rights, and participated in the foundation of the information centre on sterilisation and abortion (CISA) in Milan. She made her political debut within the radical party in Rome. She then became a MEP, European Commissioner for Fisheries, Health and Consumer Protection, from 1995 to 1999. On 17 May 2006, she became Minister of European Affairs and International Trade in Italy, then Minister of Foreign Affairs in 2013. While she has retired from politics today, Bonino still fights for the rights of women and migrants. She also does not hesitate to criticise the Italian government for its migration policy.

Mariya Gabriel

MEP of the European People’s Party between 2009 and 2017, Mariya Gabriel has been the European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society since July 2017. She is charged with participating in the realisation of the digital single market, helping to lay the groundwork for Europe’s digital future with pan-European telecommunication networks, cross-border digital services and a wave of innovative start-ups. The European Commission has until the end of the year to finalise the negotiations on the digital single market. Mariya Gabriel’s proposals include a copyright reform, the strengthening of online privacy legislation and the widespread use of the internet.

Mary Lou McDonald

Born in Dublin in 1969, Mary Lou McDonald became the first Irish MEP of the Sinn Féin between 2004 and 2009. The Sinn Féin (‘Ourselves’ or ‘We Ourselves’) is a left-wing republican political party, active in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, in favour of a unification of Ireland. It is the second-biggest political party in Northern Ireland. McDonald was vice-president of the party from 2009 until the beginning of 2018, when she became the new president of Sinn Féin. The party opposes any return to a ‘hard’ border between the two Irelands, as this could revive tensions.

Catherine De Bolle

General Commissioner of the Federal Police of Belgium since 2012, Catherine De Bolle was nominated as the head of Europol on 1st May 2018. She became the first female executive director of Europol, which has its headquarters in The Hague and supports the 28 member states of the European Union in their fight against serious international crime and terrorism. The new executive director of Europol aims to make information-sharing among member countries its priority. She also wants to focus on the fight against human trafficking, especially when it concerns unaccompanied minors.

This article was originally published in French in Barbarie - Made in Europe

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