EU fails to agree proposed female quotas for company boards

 

Brussels

European Union plans to set a 40 percent quota for women on company supervisory boards by 2020 stalled after EU commissioners failed to agree on the measures at a meeting Tuesday.

The European Commission's legal service warned that a binding quota for women may be illegal ahead of the meeting, according to a person familiar with the talks. Lawyers said EU regulators don't have the right to mandate binding targets for results obtained by companies, said the person who asked not to be identified because the process is private. EU rules can require companies to make efforts toward a target.

EU commissioners postponed discussion of EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding's plan until Nov. 14. Reding said she has "strong support" from other commissioners and drafted a compromise in line with lawyers' guidelines to win consensus from her colleagues. She declined to give details, beyond saying she would retain the 40 percent target.

"It took centuries to get gender equality on the map," Reding told reporters. "Therefore, boardrooms can wait for three more weeks. I will not give up."

British business secretary Vince Cable and ministers from nine other countries wrote the European Commission last month seeking more time for national efforts aimed at encouraging female appointments to take effect. The lack of female candidates for a seat on the European Central Bank's Executive Board saw a European Parliament committee Monday oppose the appointment of Luxembourg's Yves Mersch.

Reding's proposal had the support of eight of the 27 European commissioners, including economy commissioner Olli Rehn and antitrust chief Joaquin Almunia, ahead of Tuesday's meeting, according to another person familiar with the situation. Seven others are opposed, said the person Monday, who declined to be identified because the matter is private.

Some 13.7 percent of corporate board seats in the EU are held by women, following a 1.9 percent increase between October 2010 and January 2012, the commission said in a report in March.

Reding last year asked businesses to appoint more women to company boards. LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton is among 24 companies that signed her pledge to increase female board members to 30 percent by 2015, and 40 percent by 2020.

The EU draft law would apply to all listed companies with more than 250 employees and annual sales of more than 50 million euros ($65 million). Reding earlier suggested there be sanctions against companies that couldn't reach the target, including fines, exclusion from government tenders and a ban on public subsidies, the person said.

Spain has a 40 percent target for female representation on large company boards by 2015, and France passed a law last year to impose a 20 percent quota by 2014, and 40 percent by 2017, for companies with at least 500 employees and annual sales of 50 million euros.

Norway, which isn't part of the EU, set a quota in 2003 for at least 40 percent of corporate board seats to be filled by women.

If accepted by the commission, the proposal would need the backing of most of the EU's 27 member states and the European Parliament, which can amend a draft law before it becomes final.

Monday's non-binding opinion on Mersch's appointment was by the European Parliament's economic and monetary affairs committee in Strasbourg, France. The recommendation on Mersch, Luxembourg's central bank governor, goes to the full Parliament for a vote Oct. 25.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Customer Services Assistant

£12000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A leading online retailer in the Home Im...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Manager - OTE £50,000

£16000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If so, this online retailer are...

Recruitment Genius: Packaging Operatives

£7 - £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for two indivi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee / Graduate Helpdesk Analyst

£20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly reputable business is looking to rec...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas