European Union postpones women quota on boards plan

Woman in silhouette Several countries in the EU now have quota rules for the composition of their boards

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EU commissioners have postponed plans to impose quotas for women on company boards.

EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding was pushing for a vote on Tuesday to make it mandatory for companies to keep 40% of seats for women.

But the proposals will now not be debated until November.

The quota had already run into problems after EU lawyers said the proposed law might go too far and countries could not be forced to meet the target.

Several countries, including the UK, are opposed to Ms Reding's plans.

"Gender balance directive postponed," Ms Reding said on Twitter.

"I will not give up. [Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso] will put this on the Commission agenda again before the end of November."

On Monday, the European Parliament criticised the lack of female candidates for the European Central Bank (ECB).

A parliamentary committee - in a resolution passed by 21 votes to 12, with 13 absentions - called on the European Council to withdraw the candidacy of Luxembourg's Yves Mersch for the ECB executive board, saying his appointment would mean that the board would be all male up until 2018.

'Time is now'

The debate on Ms Reding's plan was due in Strasbourg on Tuesday, which could have led to a vote in the European Parliament to make gender quotas mandatory across the 27 countries in the European Union.

But lawyers told the Commission that the 40% quota plan, including hefty sanctions on companies in EU countries that did not meet the target, could not be enforced under EU treaties.

Earlier reports had suggested the directive was being diluted, before a decision was made to postpone it.

At the moment, less than 15% of board positions in EU member states are currently held by women, according to the Commission.

Ms Reding's proposals on compulsory numbers of women come after France, Spain, Italy, Iceland and Belgium introduced quota laws. Norway, which is not an EU member, has had a 40% quota since 2003.

Her opponents argue that voluntary targets and increased efforts to change attitudes would be more effective in the long run.

UK Business Secretary Vince Cable is leading a campaign against the quota proposals, backed by ministers from eight other countries.

In the UK, the percentage of women on the boards of FTSE 100 companies has risen over the past year to a record 16%, but the UK government wants the biggest listed companies to have a minimum 25% of female directors by 2015.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 38.

    Is it any wonder people are fed up with the EU meddling in our affairs. Lets get out asap

  • rate this

    Comment number 37.

    The era of the "Token Woman" is coming.

    Who can have any confidence in a woman director if you dont know whether she is there on merit or as makeweight for the quota?

  • rate this

    Comment number 36.

    If that is the view of the EU, they should also push for having a quota system for people of ethnic minorities ( blacks, Asians, etc) to sit on boards.

    Or else, the boards remain unbalanced.

  • rate this

    Comment number 35.

    Will the EU be enforcing quotas for MEN in the following -

    Primary school teaching


    That's OK by me .... I agree with #22 - employment and and promotion on merit.

  • rate this

    Comment number 34.

    A useless statement from yet another useless, unelected Eurocrat. Board members need to be people with merit. Reding obviously doesn't have any so she is trying to make amends. She should be told by the British people were to get off. I would rather use more forceful language but the PC moderator brigade would censor it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 33.

    This would be a cosmetic fix only. What we need is a working environment where people can reach board level through their own merit and whilst manging family commitments as well. This will help all women in the workfoce, a few more women at the top will not.

  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    +ve discrimination does inevitably lead to a lot of misplacement, which benefits neither organisation nor individual. However, it can be that the absence of ethnic/gender appointments at certain levels can be due to ingrained expectation and +ve disc can help to break this pattern. So expect a lot of people appointed out of their depth in the near term but a more balanced result in the long term.

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    This is inverted sexism. Candidates earn their way to the board by merit,not gender. Another sign here that the meddling EU cannot change its ways.

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    Just another reason why we must get out of the EU. We have nothing in common with the people who dream up this socially engineered garbage.

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    How do Europe stop discrimination happening in the boardroom? Errr by discrimination! Brilliant!! How about just giving the best person for the job the position regardless of sex, race, sexual orientation, disability etc. or is that too simple!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    Another fine example of interfering unelected bureaucrats coming up with rules and regulations to make us less competitive against the rest of the world by forcing change rather than promoting change.
    If they spent as much time and resources promoting more efficient ways of doing things Europe would be a world beater, instead of something to scare your children with in China.

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    Positive discrimination is almost as bad as negative discrimination.

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    My CV says I am 40% female, 40% Moslem, 40% gay, 40% disabled and 40% aged over 50. Do I qualify for the ECB job?

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.


    Great news for the entire mediocre woman that thinks the world owes them a living.

    Bad news for shareholders.

    You cannot judge ability or commitment based on sex. The Labour party proved that will all female shortlists

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    Another triumph for the tick box overpaid bureaucrats of the EC.

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    History has shown that to do what is considered a right thing and overcome prejudices, many (way too many) do need a bit of legislative push. Slavery, racial discrimination had to be abolished legally before they became socially unacceptable.
    Forcing women on the boards is not great, bu giving them a better chance to compensate for negative discrimination with positive discrimination may work out.

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    Promotion should be on merit. If you ignore merit you reward mediocrity.

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    Whilst it would be ideal to have more women on boards I don't believe positive discrimination is the solution because it does not treat the underlying cause. The problem can only be solved by addressing the cultural issues still lingering from half a century ago.

    I would also be concerned it may breed resentment if people feel the quota is the only reason woman are on the board.

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    How can companies afford to miss out on all the talented women I will never know as companies that do have more women at board level make more profit!
    Too often brilliant women don't make it because they are made to choose between children and career by unsupportive employers.
    Come on the girls!

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    And what type of discrimination do we call it if a very talented man misses out on a position, to an unqualified woman, purely on the grounds that the company has to fill its gender quota.


Page 47 of 48


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