Monday

27th May 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.

EUobserved

Jubilant Greens in party mood after first EP projection

A party like atmosphere has seized the Greens as a packed room of people discuss around food and drinks. Elsewhere, the centre-right EPP appear sombre, as they huddle around their computers behind closed doors.

2019 European election results

With 427 million possible voters, across 28 EU countries, electing 751 MEPs, it's the second-biggest democratic vote in the world. The results will come thick and fast - follow them here, via the European Parliament's official results site.

News in Brief

  1. Timmermans calls for 'progressive alliance'
  2. Catalonia's Puigdemont wins MEP seat
  3. Weber opens door to alliance with greens and liberals
  4. Tsipras calls snap Greek election after EP defeat
  5. Polish ruling PiS takes lion's share of EU vote
  6. Romanian voters punish ruling PSD party
  7. First official EP projection: EPP remain top, Greens fourth
  8. UK forecast puts Brexit Party on top, with 24 seats

Key details on how Europeans will vote

It's one of the biggest democratic exercises in the world with over 400 million eligible voters. National rules apply, and national parties run, but the stakes are at European level.

Magazine

All about the European Parliament elections 2019

EUobserver's new magazine is meant to help readers prepare for the European Parliament elections, no matter their level of knowledge. You can download and read the entire magazine now.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  3. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  4. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  5. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  6. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  11. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  12. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year

Latest News

  1. Populists' EU breakthrough fails, greens and liberals gain
  2. Jubilant Greens in party mood after first EP projection
  3. 2019 European election results
  4. Thunberg: We can still fix climate, but must start today
  5. Turnout up in Slovakia, with pro-EU liberals scoring high
  6. Belgium votes in hybrid EU-national election
  7. Irish greens take Dublin in second EU exit poll
  8. EU election results to trigger top jobs scramble This WEEK

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us