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
    +3

    Comment number 778.

    This is clear sexism and discrimination, if a company already has 60% men in their boardroom it will lead to other men not getting a job whether they are qualified or not because they aren't the 'right' gender. With politicians always banging on about 'equality', these kind of gender biased ideas are unthinkable. Typical PC gone mad, Britain needs to leave this shambles asap

  • rate this
    +11

    Comment number 777.

    *bing bong*
    "Ladies and Gentlemen your PC Airlines flight to New York is now ready for boarding.
    Please note that your pilot today is not one of our best, but is from a section of society that is under represented on the flightdeck"
    *bing bong*

    Well, what are you waiting for?

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 776.

    There is no such thing as positive discrimination: only discrimination.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 775.

    Let any countries pushing for this go ahead and do it. Then in 10 years let's see how far they have fallen behind those that promote on merit.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 774.

    Can I have a quota pleeeaaase? I want to be able to carry a child too, it's not fair!!

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 773.

    As a man I have suffered discrimination against me all my life. I gave up over ten years ago and went ghost.

  • Comment number 772.

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

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 771.

    I went to a job interview earlier this year where the Company Head was a Woman, and a very competent one too!(and it was an Electronics Business!)This kind of tinkering with statistics is as it describes, just tinkering.Anyone with sisters who work in reponsible positions will see it as it is,they're there because they are Good Enough!NOT to 'fill the post' because they're female, it'sPatronising!

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 770.

    Why do companies need be creative and find ways to support women into the board room. If women don't have children and put in the same effort as men they do get into senior jobs. What they really want is an unfair advantage. Men give up family life to get to the board room, men know that if they take a break to spend time with the family it will mean an end to any career hopes. Get over it!

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 769.

    Not sure this is the way to go - where would this leave unconnected men like myself? Why is this even a gender issue? Why don't we go ahead and fill 50% of the board with gay people too...

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 768.

    The European Union seems intent on squandering the last vestiges of any respect that it may once have merited.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 767.

    I recall the words of a poster in the house I shared with a feminist student back in college days
    "Women who want to be EQUAL to men lack imagination"
    They only want equality when they are behind. If they are equal they want to get ahead e.g pension annuities cannot now be based on male v female life expectancy.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 766.

    Having almost completed the project of slowly slitting the throat of European private enterprise through tax and beauraucracy, the Communist State of Belgium (Belgium and China are the only countries I know where the governement decides everyone's pay rise) now intends to prevent companies from giving the most important top jobs to the most able people. Economic madness... BRIC will be sniggering

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 765.

    oh not this old chestnut again
    the sooner we get out of the Lisbon treaty the better

    how do a bunch of judges in Brussels know who is the best candidate for a job on the board,
    meddling again
    it is disgusting and demeaning towards women
    Dave get out of Europe now before it's to late

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 764.

    That would only encourage latent hidden sexism,women on quotas would probably be more scrutinized and over critized by envious male competitors.Equal opportunities,yes,judged on merits AND merits only,yes,quotas stand for this kindergarden mentality

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 763.

    The best qualified person shopuld get the job every time.
    ANY bias, is bias, and an eye-for-an-eye is a medieval concept.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 762.

    Surely a quota system just tars all women in senior positions with the "token girl" label even when they are promoted on merit. Also, I do hope Yves Mersch is suing the EU for sex discrimination after being turned down just for not being a woman.

  • Comment number 761.

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

  • rate this
    +28

    Comment number 760.

    It would be rather demeaning for any female board member for this compulsory female quota to be brought into law. Any argument against a female members views would end in " your only on the board to make up the legal quota, not to have any meaningful say on decisions".

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 759.

    752 LG - of course any wise chairperson should ensure that the board is not comprised solely of 'traditional' candidates and in my experience female non execs can earn non exec positions for this reason entirely on merit. However, the dearth of female senior execs across all the major companies limits the traditional route to the main board for women and you dont fix that by quota non execs.

 

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