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

Related Stories

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.


More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 318.

    Positive discrimination is as bad as any other form of discrimination. The EU needs to back off: IMO this kind of nonsensical interference will do more to damage the prospects & standing of high achieving women in the workplace! By all means, contiunue to apply discrimination in the Public Sector with quotas etc; but UK businesses need the best people, irrespective of gender, to compete and excel!

  • rate this

    Comment number 317.

    I guess if most on the board were judged according to their skills, experience and capability, most of the seats in the Parliment would be empty...

  • rate this

    Comment number 316.

    Focus on Agism nos Sexism. Companies are not Sexist but they are definately Agist
    Many executive level women take a break to have children and cannot get back into the same kind of work because of their AGE not her Gender.

  • rate this

    Comment number 315.

    Will the EU be demanding quotas for female dustmen or street cleaners or soldiers? Or do women just want equality for the good bits?

    Positive discrimination is still discrimination. If a company doesn't have the 40% of qualified women this will just mean that sub-standard individuals will take the roles. If I don't get a job because it had to go to a women I will be off to court.

  • rate this

    Comment number 314.

    I think the EU would be better spending its time dealing with the mess that its own system caused when they accepted uncounted Countries like Greece to run up Debts that it could not afford. Talk about fiddling while Rome Burns, and the EU politicians wonder why they are so disliked.

  • rate this

    Comment number 313.

    Its the politically correct version of "she got the job because she slept with the boss" and just as insulting.

    Remind me what is the use of the EU again??

  • rate this

    Comment number 312.

    Only fair way to bring in this rule would be to bring another rule that sets out a quota for men carrying a pregnancy and giving birth.

    Fair's fair.

  • rate this

    Comment number 311.

    I am a woman and am horror-struck by this. I want these things, yes, but on my own merit and through my own hard work! A top job handed to me because of my gender would mean nothing to me.

  • rate this

    Comment number 310.

    Is it just men and women who may have a different way of running things? What about ethnic background, geographic upbringing, religious outlook, sense, where you shop......shoe size!!! All influence your outlook on life and how you react in certain running a company. I have never understood how gender quotas are supposed to work!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 309.

    Yeah, we get the "qualified bit".
    You are saying, if there are 1 qualified woman and 1000 qualified men, you'd pick the women, because of quota; we are saying, no, get off the merit-based system, we will pick the best out of the 1001, in this case, more likely to be a man (assuming the merit in PEOPLE follow a normal distribution).

  • rate this

    Comment number 308.

    Agree should be on merit, think idea that disrimination against 1 section of society can be solved by discriminating against another idiotic. But do think there is a need for dialogue but this does include feminist lobby accepting that losing a key player for up to a year to maternity leave is legitimate worry for a business.

  • rate this

    Comment number 307.

    Please can we stop mangling the English language? There is no such thing as 'positive' discrimination. If you discriminate, it will be positive for some groups and negative for others. If you do it for social engineering reasons you should say so, but that flies in the face of all the equality legislation brought in in recent years.

  • rate this

    Comment number 306.

    Unfortunately, whilst women can control to a large extent when they get pregnant and can call upon a range of childcare options, women are only capable of having babies reliably prior to the age of 40. Until Science comes up with a way of storing eggs with minimal risk, women will never be 100% focused on their careers between the ages of 20 and 40 - a critical period in career development.

  • rate this

    Comment number 305.

    Total PC baloney gone mad.
    EU should be focussing on the economic situation and not foisting yet more time consuming regulations on business.
    retired business woman

  • Comment number 304.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 303.

    Businesses should do what's best for them, rather than some stupid PC agenda. Sorry, but that's life.

  • Comment number 302.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 301.

    companies always employ the best person for the job - - which is why I am out of work.

  • rate this

    Comment number 300.

    Diversity for diversity's sake has no merit, hopefully this proposal will be blocked. It's inconceivable how some people can say that they oppose discrimination but are happy to use discrimination when it serves their own ends

  • rate this

    Comment number 299.

    Absolutely ridiculous. Positive discrimination is still discrimination. What would be the incentives for men to apply themselves and excel in the workplace if it has already been pre-determined they cannot gain an executive position due to female only positions becoming available!!!

    Most qualified and best performer for each job = incentive for all to gain qualifications and excel at work.


Page 33 of 48


More Business stories



BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.