Thursday

25th May 2017

Opinion

Time for real debate on EU chauvinism

The European Commission announced in March 2011 its intention to address the gross imbalance of women and men on corporate boards in Europe.

A year and a half later, internal disagreement within the 27 member college of commissioners is blocking progress and undermining the credibility of the institution.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • 'Coffee. Two sugars' - 65 years after the Treaty of Rome, 97% of corporate presidents are men (Photo: diepuppenstubensammlerin)

Vice-President of the commission, Viviane Reding was Tuesday due to present a draft directive aiming to increase the representation of women on the boards of private companies in the EU.

Over the past months, the text of the proposal had already been watered down to such a degree that women’s associations were already dubious of its worth.

The application to only the largest publicly-quoted companies meant it would apply to very few employers; limiting the legislation to non-executive positions undermined all claims of improving women’s representation in decision-making; leaving the choice of sanctions up to the member states meant effective enforcement would be unlikely.

But just as the European Women's Lobby was responding to opposition from certain member states by noting that the (leaked) draft directive was "too weak to oppose," the initiative has come under threat before even being put forward for democratic debate.

The European Commission is supposed to be the "guardian of the EU treaties" and the treaties very clearly call on the EU to protect and promote equality between women and men.

The EU has well-established competence in the area of employment and has pioneered anti-discrimination in this field. However, 65 years after the Treaty of Rome, men continue to occupy more than 85 percent of board positions in the private sector and a stunning 97 percent of presidency posts.

In a Union which proclaims equality between women and men a founding and fundamental value, it is shocking to see any actors oppose measures for the equal access on basis of merit of women to top positions.

It is even more shocking to see the commissioners do so.

The European Parliament has called for strong measures and a number of member states have themselves already adopted legislation with targets and sanctions for non-compliance.

There is no excuse for the commission not to put forward a strong text and let the legislative debate take place in a free and democratic manner. Now, they have three more weeks to do just that.

The writer is a campaigner at The European Women's Lobby, a Brussels-based NGO

Why the EU doesn't get China's Belt and Road

It is not enough for European officials to simply tell the press that they do not understand the Belt and Road – the vision is clear enough, the point is to decide how to engage with it.

Development serving the purpose of migration control

While the EU is sacrificing development aid to serve short-term migration interests, it is important to realise that enhanced border controls will not solve the root causes of forced migration and displacement.

News in Brief

  1. Pressure grows on climate impact of EU timber harvesting
  2. US goes after Fiat Chrysler over emissions cheat
  3. Munich police break up Europe-wide burglar clan
  4. Report: VW threatened with €19.7 billion French fine
  5. Turkey begins mass trial of suspected coup leaders
  6. Merkel's CDU consolidates lead in polls
  7. France to host Russian president
  8. Switzerland votes against nuclear power

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFChild Alert on Myanmar: Fruits of Rapid Development yet to Reach Remote Regions
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersBecome an Explorer - 'Traces of Nordic' Seeking Storytellers Around the World
  3. Malta EU 2017Closer Cooperation and Reinforced Solidarity to Ensure Security of Gas Supply
  4. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceHigh-Intensity Interval Training Is Therapeutic Option for Type 2 Diabetes
  5. Dialogue Platform"The West Must Help Turkey Return to a Democratic Path" a Call by Fethullah Gulen
  6. ILGA-EuropeRainbow Europe 2017 Is Live - Which Countries Are Leading on LGBTI Equality?
  7. Centre Maurits CoppietersWhen You Invest in a Refugee Woman You Help the Whole Community
  8. Eurogroup for AnimalsECJ Ruling: Member States Given No Say on Wildlife Protection In Trade
  9. European Heart NetworkCall for Urgent Adoption of EU-Wide Nutrient Profiles for Nutrition & Health Claims
  10. Counter BalanceInvestment Plan for Europe More Climate Friendly but European Parliament Shows Little Ambition
  11. Mission of China to the EUPresident Xi: China's Belt and Road Initiative Benefits People Around the World
  12. Malta EU 2017EU Strengthens Control of the Acquisition and Possession of Firearms

Latest News

  1. Trump expected to make Nato pledge
  2. Car-sharing's promise of clean cities
  3. Openness over Brexit is 'political play', says EU ombudsman
  4. Le Pen's EU group in fresh spending scandal
  5. New EU right to data portability to cause headaches
  6. Cyber threats are inevitable, paralyzing impact is not
  7. Transparency complaints keep EU Ombudsman busy
  8. EU sets out criteria for relocating UK agencies