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 298.

    Self employment has zero gender barriers
    Where are all the self employed women??

    75% of self employed people are blokes

  • rate this

    Comment number 297.

    And when will EU debate on equal rights for fathers? re custody or paternity leave? fairer divorce laws? Maybe address the lower life expectancy? or perhaps education?
    No no, quotas for exec boards is obviously a higher priority

  • rate this

    Comment number 296.

    280. Jay. To be pro-Europe is to basically open yourself up to this kind of legislation. Ignorance is no excuse. This kind of discrimination is just a microcosm of what "being in Europe" is all about. There's a lot more where this came from, but some people are not willing to accept it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 295.


    During Soviet times it used to be farmers and workers, during the rule of the bureaucrats it's women who are the officially preferred kind of people.

    Socialism failed mainly because of poor economy.
    Predict what will happen if we still can't just get the best person for the job.


  • Comment number 294.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 293.

    There are NO female rights.
    There are NO male rights.
    The same as there are NO tall, short, hairy or bald rights.

    We are individuals. We have individual rights.

    The law should be blind to us, not picking winners & losers based upon what we have on our chest anymore than the colour of our skin or hairs on our heads.

  • Comment number 292.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 291.

    Discrimination of any kind is wrong, this also includes setting quotas for one or other social group. If there's a job opening, then the best person should be given that job, irrespective of sex, race, creed or religion. Anything else just raises too many questions & a disharmonious work force.

  • rate this

    Comment number 290.

    If we legislated to ensure a certain number of men were on the boards then it would be deemed sexist. Why is this any different?

    As a man this legislation is against my human rights and excluding me from the position unfairly!

    Surely whether the board member is male, female or even a donkey doesn't matter, so long as they do a good job? Why is this even been considered by these crack pots?

  • Comment number 289.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 288.

    The EU like so many of our own institutions are starting to put equality before success, it can only end in failure and cause resentment for those who have succeded on thier own merit rather than a shoe in from some HR function to satisfy quota's.
    The equality laws we have already are robust this is just grandstanding for media purposes.

  • rate this

    Comment number 287.

    It would make more sense to fix the process rather than the outcome.

  • rate this

    Comment number 286.

    A company thrives or falls based upon its staff. If a woman is the best person for the job, hiring a man for the role will mean they do not perform as well and these companies will be overtaken by one which has a better policy is selection and promotion. Equality is a work in progress and is succeeding, this positive discrimination is still discrimination and will not accelerate it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 285.

    I'm an accounts manager at a large online media company with aspirations of becoming CFO within the next 7 years. I will get there on merit but if this legislation goes forth, any promotion that comes my way could be viewed negatively just because I'm a woman. I don't agree with this legislation at all.

  • rate this

    Comment number 284.

    Fixing the labour markets should be made illegal. It is free to all qualified and willing. This is discriminatory as having a 25% from 16% increase in women board members means a 9% decease in mens jobs on theory of better equality. We need to find out the reasons why women are not popular as board memebers.

  • Comment number 283.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 282.

    Looking forward to the '40% of public servants must be men' quota. That would mean around 300k women losing their jobs. Still, that would even up the unemployment figures.

  • rate this

    Comment number 281.

    Why not insist on blondes as a percentage

  • rate this

    Comment number 280.

    But WHY??? I'm pro-Europe, but why do we need perfect gender balances in every area of our society (although actually the clamor only ever seems to be about the best of our society, ie not the most dangerous low-paid jobs, which our society still seems VERY content to leave to poor men).

    Gender-based job selection runs completely contrary to the very idea of meritocracy and gender equality.

  • rate this

    Comment number 279.

    "forward thinking" what a daft mis-used term. often used to shame people into doing something backwards by convincing them they'll be ahead of the curve. No - quotas are stupid and adopting them would be shooting themselves in the foot


Page 34 of 48


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