Monday

20th Feb 2017

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.

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.

“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.

Dutch plan global fund for safe abortion

The Dutch want to lead efforts to make up the shortfall in aid for safe abortions around the world, after Donald Trump announced the US would not fund such projects.

EU to tighten rules on social benefits

EU citizens working away from their home countries will face tougher hurdles if they need to claim benefits, under plans from the commission.

Visual Data

EU farming policy: The damage done by 20 years of inertia

The EU Commission will ask the public later this week how the common agricultural policy should be overhauled. Data from the past two decades reveals a catalogue of missed chances and failed reforms.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Malta EU 2017End of Roaming Fees: Council Reaches Agreement on Wholesale Caps
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Innovation House Opens in New York to Help Startups Access US Market
  3. Centre Maurits CoppietersMinorities and Migrations
  4. Salzburg Global SeminarThe Child in the City: Health, Parks and Play
  5. UNICEFNumber of Ukrainian Children Needing Aid Nearly Doubles to 1 Million Over the Past Year
  6. Centre Maurits CoppietersThe Situation of Refugee Women in Europe
  7. Salzburg Global SeminarToward a Shared Culture of Health: Charting the Patient-Clinician Relationship
  8. European Free AllianceAustria Should Preserve & Promote Bilingual and Multinational Carinthia
  9. Martens CentreShow Your Love for Democracy! Take Part in Our Contest: "If It's Broken, Let's Fix It"
  10. CISPECloud Computing Leaders Establish Data Protection Standards to Protect Customer Data
  11. Malta EU 2017Landmark Deal Reached With European Parliament on Portability of Online Content
  12. Belgrade Security ForumBSF 2017: Building a Common Future in the Age of Uncertainty