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 598.

    lets have two boards for every company.
    one all male and the other all female.

    It would be interesting to see the different decisions

  • rate this

    Comment number 597.

    How is allocating board places to women a definition of equality? So they put women on the boards in place of what, better qualified and experienced people? It's a complete and utter absurdity. Surely the better qualified and experienced candidates should be elected regardless of which sex they are?

  • rate this

    Comment number 596.

    Margaret Thatcher didn't need positive discrimination to get the country's top job. It should be the same for everyone else.

  • rate this

    Comment number 595.

    There are plenty of women out there who are qualified for the jobs (often held back by the choice between children and job) - can we afford not to use them? It would appear by most of the postings here we can afford to lose them - as has been happening with very little change.
    No wonder we have problems here in the UK.....

  • rate this

    Comment number 594.

    The main reason why women are not on these boards is because they choose motherhood over it. We are programmed to be mothers and if money were no object, most of us would rather raise our own children than hand them over to someone else. I am curious to see how it all works in places like Norway though where they do have mandatory quotas for women.

  • rate this

    Comment number 593.

    Is this only positive discrimination in favour of women or will 'all-women' only boards be outlawed as well?

  • rate this

    Comment number 592.

    Britain does seem very backward in its attitudes. Management ranges between mediocre and awful. Those at the top are pretty much the old boys network - not the best, but there by connections. We have very poor provision of affordable childcare, thereby excluding many capable women from the workforce. We are far from a meritocracy and any sort of level playing field. Time to move on.

  • rate this

    Comment number 591.

    40% is not enough.

    Given how inept women are, it should be female-only Boardrooms: 100%.

    Will that keep the PC-brigade happy?

  • rate this

    Comment number 590.

    40% of board members, 50% of cabinet members.
    What about 40% of miners, 40% of binmen, 40% sewer workers?

    Why do I feel like we're seesawing towards matriarchy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 589.

    Dont agree with this at all. I'm a father of three intelligent and strong minded girls - I would hope they all grow up to achieve their dreams on merit in whatever field and not due to some positive discrimination.

  • rate this

    Comment number 588.

    I once went to an interesting seminar about leveling the playing field. That was fine most people agreed by having equal opportunity but when you try positive discrimination you run into trouble. No matter how well meaning and regardless of how you dress it up discrimination is discrimination. We are all different with different abilities and aspirations promote equality and let us get on with it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 587.

    So instead of rich men born with a silver spoon in their mouths running large companies, its now rich and privileged women who will run them. Instead of talking about this nonsense, why don't we talk about social mobility.

  • rate this

    Comment number 586.

    Positive discrimination is still discrimination!
    You really didn't know?
    There is always discrimination - positive & negative.
    Take your choice!

  • rate this

    Comment number 585.

    The only reason for appointing ANYONE to a board, or any other position, is the contribution that they will be able to make to the organisation in question.

    Their gender is, and should be, irrelevant.

  • rate this

    Comment number 584.

    Just wait until the E.U. complains about the scarcity of disabled black vegetarian lesbians in our boardrooms.

  • rate this

    Comment number 583.

    Good one! Let's discriminate our way out of discrimination. And to think we're paying these imbeciles!

  • rate this

    Comment number 582.

    Get women out of the workplace altogether! After all, everybody knows they only get as far as they do by sleeping around.

    Oh, sorry? You find that offensive?

    Well then now you know how many men feel about the continual assertion that we only succeed because of Sexism, and that there's always some down-trodden woman out there who could do just as well if not kept down by wicked, sexist men.

  • rate this

    Comment number 581.

    Can't see Butch Flashmans in the UK agreeing to this, as this prevents them carrying out their extreme right wing agenda. They have already reduced women's role in the UK Economy(cuts have hit women the hardest, and forced into part time jobs)so UK will have an even smaller pool of women vying to get to the top!
    if the EU advocated these quotas to part time & coffee making roles then may be a goer

  • rate this

    Comment number 580.

    Vince Cable on the side of common sense! Whatever next? Perhaps he'll drop the daft idea of having lower university entry requirements for those from deprived backgrounds.

  • Comment number 579.

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


Page 19 of 48


More Business stories



Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

Copyright © 2015 BBC. 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.