Sunday

17th Nov 2019

Reding wants EU law imposing gender quotas

  • "I believe it is high time that Europe breaks the glass ceiling that continues to bar female talent from getting to the top in Europe's listed companies," said EU commissioner for justice and home affairs, Viviane Reding in March. (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

The EU commissioner for justice and home affairs, Viviane Reding, will table a proposal in October or November that would fine or sanction state-owned companies whose supervisory boards are composed of less than 40 percent of women by 2020.

The draft legislative proposal - seen by the International Herald Tribune and the Financial Times - aims to tackle persistent gender imbalances across the EU.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 year's of archives. 30-day free trial.

... or join as a group

“Progress in the share of women on company boards is very slow, with an average annual increase of just 0.6 percentage points over the past years,” says the draft directive, reports the Financial Times.

Reding back in April said: "The economic case for getting more women into the workforce and more women into top jobs in the EU is overwhelming."

Women currently occupy less than 14 percent of board positions in top publicly-listed companies, according to EU data published in January. In 2010, it was 11.8 percent.

The percentage drops to single digits for large companies based in Estonia, Ireland, Greece, Italy, Cyprus, Luxembourg, Hungary, Malta, and Portugal. Finland and Latvia have the most in the bloc at 27 percent and 26 percent respectively, while Norway is even firther ahead on 42 percent.

The European Commission in March published a report on the limited progress towards increasing the number of women in top paying jobs.

The report says that at current rates, it would take 40 years for women to occupy 40 percent of the board positions at top firms in the EU.

Last year, Reding had asked publicly-listed companies to voluntarily increase the number of women board members by signing a pledge. The pledge commits companies increase the number of women represented on board rooms by 30 percent by 2015 and by 40 percent by 2020.

Only a handful of companies signed the pledge prompting criticism from Reding.

"I regret to see that despite our calls, self-regulation so far has not brought about satisfactory results," she said in March.

Reding does not wholly support the idea of quotas but believes it necessary to break the gender imbalances. She also noted that such imbalances hinder economic growth.

Belgium, France, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain are at different stages of adopting legislation to introduce gender quotas at company boards.

The EU also says that women, on average, still earn 16.4 percent less than men for the same hours worked.

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.

EU commissioner up for 'fight' on gender quotas

EU justice commissioner Viviane Reding has said she is up for an "interesting fight" within the commission itself and with nine member states opposing draft legislation on gender quotas for top jobs in companies.

NGO reveals German firms fail to meet UN human rights rule

A new report reveals that the biggest companies in Germany fail to manage measures to protect their employees and supply-chain from human rights abuses - ahead of the government deadline for introducing tough new regulation.

Automation threat to jobs will hit EU unevenly

New technologies, such as artificial intelligence and robotics, have the potential "to displace some workers from their tasks, even causing some jobs to disappear entirely", affecting the work nature of millions of jobs in Europe, according to a new report.

News in Brief

  1. Catalan politicians extradition hearing postponed
  2. Germany: EU banking union deal possible in December
  3. EIB: no more funding of fossil-fuel projects
  4. UK defence chief: Russia could trigger World War III
  5. Hungary's Varhelyi will face more questions
  6. Police put former Berlusconi MEP Comi under house arrest
  7. MEPs criticise Poland for criminalising sex education
  8. UK will not name new commissioner before election

Stakeholder

FIFA's schools programme aims to reach 700m children

Football clubs today invest huge sums of money in youth development and court talented young players from an early age. Children are the future – not only where football is concerned, but also for society in general.

Opinion

A fundamental contradiction in EU drug policy

The knock-on affects from a 'war on drugs' in Europe is creating problems in Albania - and as far afield as Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Bangladesh and the Philippines.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  3. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture
  5. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  6. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  7. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  9. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021

Latest News

  1. France unveils new model EU enlargement
  2. Key moments for new commission This WEEK
  3. EU threatens legal action against UK over commissioner
  4. Corruption in the Balkans: the elephant in the room
  5. Green MEPs unconvinced by Romanian commissioner
  6. EU states fell short on sharing refugees, say auditors
  7. Hungary's commissioner-to-be grilled over loyalty to Orban
  8. Widow's plea as EU diplomats debate Magnitsky Act

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us