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 798.

    75% of UK council workers are women.

    So, in the name of equality and fairness will Ms Reding also propose they sack 25% of their workforce and replace them with men?

    No, thought not. "Equality" only ever works one way.

    PS Only 36% the UK full-time work force are women - so 40% on the board is over representation.

    PPS When is the EU referendum, so we can make Ms Reding find a proper job?

  • rate this

    Comment number 797.

    Did the proposal also mention a minimum percentage of seats for *men*? You know - in the name of equality?

  • rate this

    Comment number 796.

    Surely children are also under-represented in the boardroom. Why not quotas for toddlers?

  • rate this

    Comment number 795.

    I hate this PC world, we now have proposals for a "black footballers' association", proposed by the chairman of the society of black lawyers. Substitute black for white and it's racist. There's nothing positive about discrimination.

  • rate this

    Comment number 794.

    Assuming women are as capable as men, we should see an approximate 50%-50% composition on the boards, not the current 85%-15%

    = =
    I don't know if you're male or female but assumption is dangerous. It can ruin businesses. Besides, ANY government interfering in the corporation recruitment process we might as well all give up. They'll be telling us what we should be producing next.

  • Comment number 793.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 792.

    In all situations you need the best person for the job, be it male or female. Quotas are a nonesence

  • rate this

    Comment number 791.

    We are run by Europe now. If Europe does not like our government they will change it. If we vote against Europe, we will have to vote again until we vote in favour. England has no Parliament for English matters. Democracy is dead our votes mean nothing. Hitler won its just been kept a secret.

  • rate this

    Comment number 790.

    before they do this, they should at least sort out retirement age's 1st, i still do not understand why women get to retire before men, especially as they generally live longer it should be 60yrs for men & 65 for woman

  • rate this

    Comment number 789.

    What we should really be looking at is why there are executive boards in the first place. Artificial hierarchy is something we need to address head on.

  • rate this

    Comment number 788.

    I firmly believe in sexual equality

    I strongly oppose moves for quotas of men/women/ethnic minorities - its racism and sexism by another name.

    I'd rather never work on a board than think that I only got the job because of the shape of my genitalia.

  • rate this

    Comment number 787.

    Better late than never the EU realises that this proposal is problematic :

    if you have a quota for women then logically you will also have a quota based on ethnicity, religion etc to ensure fair representation. Where does it stop ?

    it may undermine women promoted to a high level - did they get there on merit or because of a quota ? A question mark over a capable businesswoman does not help.

  • rate this

    Comment number 786.

    Cable the limp damp is surprisingly against this, with him being a raving Europhile and this fitting perfectly with his party's "progressive" agenda. Still, it proves politicians can practice doublethink. Orwell was right, but what do we really expect from politicians?

  • rate this

    Comment number 785.

    Assuming women are as capable as men, we should see an approximate 50%-50% composition on the boards, not the current 85%-15%

    This means current boards are promoting around 35% men that are less capable than women

    What? You mean that capability alone is enough to get you into the CEO club. You think you're interviewed for these jobs? Besides, you shouldn't just assume.

  • rate this

    Comment number 784.

    Role Up Role Up
    Board positions available
    Candidates must be female
    No other qualifications or requirements needed
    Role Up Role Up

  • rate this

    Comment number 783.

    I'm suprised Cable the limp damp is against it, surely this fits perfectly with his "progressive" agenda and is the most Europhile of the lot. Shows how politicians can practice doublethink. Orwell was right. Still, what did we expect.

  • rate this

    Comment number 782.

    @ 737.David
    "Have baby, then get back to work in a few days."

    Good luck getting any productive work out of the women then; what with lack of sleep and the stresses that the female body would have gone through to actually give birth. A few days? You're barking mad!

    On the note of a quota though, it could be possitive or negative, I'd wait on it though.

  • rate this

    Comment number 781.

    Strange how the EU Commissioners don't propose quotas of women on dustbin collection rounds.

  • rate this

    Comment number 780.

    How outrageous, and inimical to all conceptions of natural justice, that in the 21st century, 100% of all people are still born to female mothers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 779.

    The only concern expressed is for women, their feelings, not upsetting them, "patronising" them, "demeaning" them.

    Men are as always ignored and not considered. We are purely utilities for the benefit of women to be discarded by them upon a whim when we are no longer of use.


Page 9 of 48


More Business stories



  • Witley Court in Worcestershire Abandoned mansions

    What happened to England's lost stately homes?

  • Tray of beer being carried10 Things

    Beer is less likely to slosh than coffee, and other nuggets

  • Spoon and buckwheatSoul food

    The grain that tells you a lot about Russia's state of mind

  • Woman readingWeekendish

    The best reads you need to catch up on

  • Salim Rashid SuriThe Singing Sailor

    The young Omani who became a pre-war fusion music hit

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.