Britain may miss out on a top job in Brussels after the incoming president of the EU expressed frustration there were too few women nominated.
In a veiled warning to the Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker revealed he is “insisting” several governments send female candidates for the European Commission.
Most European nations, including Britain, have nominated men.
But the president - whose appointment was fiercely resisted by David Cameron – said: "A commission without a significant number of women is, in my view, neither legitimate nor credible.”
Mr Juncker, speaking to Austrian newspaper Der Kurrier, indicated women were likely to get the key roles in his administration.
He said: "Female commissioners will then certainly have very good chances of landing an important portfolio or of getting one of the most sought-after posts of vice-president, acting as my deputies."
The prime minister proposed Lord Hill of Oareford, former leader of the House of Lords, earlier this year but the peer is a relative unknown in European circles.
The Daily Telegraph reported Mr Juncker’s aids had to Google Lord Hill after receiving the nomination.
EU leaders are due to discuss the allocation of key roles on the commission at a summit in Brussels this weekend. The UK has said it is hoping Lord Hill will secure an economic portfolio.
The final slate will have to be approved by the European Parliament.
Additional reporting by Press Association