Thursday

14th Nov 2019

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

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join 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.

Leftist MEPs call on EU to address crisis in Chile

A total of 48 MEPs from GUE/NGL, the Greens and the Socialists have demanded the EU to comply with the democracy clause of the EU-Chile agreement to ensure that Chile respects fundamental rights.

Podcast

Cultural Battlefield

Marta Keil knows firsthand the pressure on culture from Poland's ruling Law and Justice party. Her overview begins at the Polski theatre in the city of Wrocław, and describes an epic clash as the Polish museum sector is steadily hollowed-out.

News in Brief

  1. Police end Catalan separatist blockade of France-Spain road
  2. Poland arrests extremists for 'planning attacks on Muslims'
  3. Controversial commission portfolio name changed
  4. Catalan party to support new Spanish coalition
  5. Russia jails six Crimean Tatar activists for terrorism
  6. Venice flooded with highest tide in 53 years
  7. Border controls 'the norm' in some EU states since 2015
  8. Netherlands plan to reduce speed limit to 100km/h

Podcast

Cultural Battlefield

Marta Keil knows firsthand the pressure on culture from Poland's ruling Law and Justice party. Her overview begins at the Polski theatre in the city of Wrocław, and describes an epic clash as the Polish museum sector is steadily hollowed-out.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  2. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture
  4. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  5. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  6. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  8. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  12. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.

Latest News

  1. Leftist MEPs call on EU to address crisis in Chile
  2. Mustard gas and cod: Last chance to stop Nord Stream 2?
  3. Cultural Battlefield
  4. Nationalists as much a threat to EU arts as resources
  5. Dear President Macron, being a migrant is not a crime
  6. Catalan MEP is 'elected', court advisor says
  7. Pro-Israeli group scores own goal on EU retail labels
  8. New commissioners clear 'conflict of interests' hurdle

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us