Wednesday

7th Dec 2022

Lack of women in top jobs to cause 'problems' for EU economy

  • Viviane Reding - EU companies should make more use of this "untapped talent" (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

The EU's internal market will suffer if companies do not put more women on their boards, the EU's gender equality commissioner Viviane Reding said Tuesday (11 July).

Reding made the claim while standing alongside Chantal Gaemperle, a board member at French luxury label LVMH, who had just signed an EU-sponsored pledge to increase the number of women in the company.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The commissioner said that come March next year she will look to see whether companies have made a "clear, precise and measurable evolution" towards greater gender balance within their walls.

"If yes, there will be no need for European legislation. If no, we will have a problem with the internal market," said the commissioner explaining that major companies who work across the EU will be confronted with different national laws on women quotas.

Reding's thinking is that if there is a public procurement tender in Spain, for example, Spanish companies who already have to oblige by national quota laws will have an immediate advantage over a German company, which does not.

France, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands and Italy all have national rules concerning the representation of women in business.

The commissioner, who wants to boost female boardroom positions to 30 percent by 2015 and to 40 percent by 2020, said she is "completely supported" by internal market commissioner Michel Barnier.

Currently women make up 10 percent of directors and 3 percent of chief executive officers in the EU's largest companies, with the number of women on corporate boards increasing by around half a percentage point per year.

Although Reding has been increasingly vocal about her campaign, to date only seven companies have signed up to the public pledge, up and running since March.

And while LVMH is the largest company to have done so, the move represents something of a hollow victory for Reding as a French law, in place since early 2011, requires that the company's board be made up of 40 percent women by 2017.

Reding, in her third term as EU commissioner, has experience with these types of uphill battles. She took on the mobile phone companies in her previous commission life using similar tactics. When mobile phone companies ignored her, she regulated to bring prices down.

She is supported by the EU parliament, which earlier this month said Brussels should make such quotas mandatory. An EU law in an area dealing with employment and social policy is likely to be controversial among member states, however.

Opinion

Women in the EU: an untapped resource

Women might just be one of the greatest, largely untapped, resources that Europe has in meeting its demographic challenge, writes Birgitta Ohlsson.

Exclusive

Borrell gets pension from MEP fund set for taxpayer bailout

Josep Borrell, the EU's foreign policy chief, is currently drawing a pension from a European Parliament fund that is some €400m in debt and may require a taxpayer bailout at a time of rising inflation and high energy costs.

Column

Autocrats make us all less secure

How should democratic states co-operate with authoritarian governments in the future? My organisation, Democracy Reporting International, has studied the security strategies of 13 democratic governments to understand how they see this relationship.

Opinion

Big Agri's lies: green EU farming not to blame for food insecurity

The agribusiness narrative is a masquerade. A smokescreen to water down environmentally-friendly reforms and maintain industrial agriculture. A smokescreen to which a majority of European policy-makers, including member states, are dangerously buying into.

Column

Autocrats make us all less secure

How should democratic states co-operate with authoritarian governments in the future? My organisation, Democracy Reporting International, has studied the security strategies of 13 democratic governments to understand how they see this relationship.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersLarge Nordic youth delegation at COP15 biodiversity summit in Montreal
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP27: Food systems transformation for climate action
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region and the African Union urge the COP27 to talk about gender equality
  4. International Sustainable Finance CentreJoin CEE Sustainable Finance Summit, 15 – 19 May 2023, high-level event for finance & business
  5. Friedrich Naumann Foundation European DialogueGender x Geopolitics: Shaping an Inclusive Foreign Security Policy for Europe
  6. Obama FoundationThe Obama Foundation Opens Applications for its Leaders Program in Europe

Latest News

  1. EU delays Hungary funds decision, as Budapest vetoes Ukraine aid
  2. Borrell gets pension from MEP fund set for taxpayer bailout
  3. Autocrats make us all less secure
  4. Big Agri's lies: green EU farming not to blame for food insecurity
  5. German top court declares €800bn EU recovery fund 'legal'
  6. EU countries struggle to crack Hungary's vetos
  7. Frontex expanding migrant route-busting mission in Balkans
  8. EU ministers in fresh battle on joint debt, after Biden subsidies

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us