Wednesday

16th Jan 2019

EU anti-sexism law kicked into November

  • Reding - a vote could have killed the bill (Photo: European Community, 2006)

Disagreement among top officials and legal worries have come close to killing a high-profile EU gender quota law.

The latest version of the bill - drafted by justice commissioner Vivianne Reding - is to force publicly-listed EU firms to have at least 40 percent of women in non-executive posts on their boards by 2020.

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

It is also more "subsidiarity-friendly" than earlier drafts - it gives more leeway for national authorities on implementation.

But when Reding presented her paper to the college of commissioners in Strasbourg on Tuesday (23 October), her boss, Jose Manuel Barroso, saw enough opposition around the table to decline calling a simple majority vote.

If the vote had said No the law would have gone in the bin.

Instead, commissioners will hold fresh talks on the text on 14 November after their legal services have had a chance to pore over details.

Reding tweeted on Tuesday that the main finance-sector commissioners - Barroso himself, Joaquin Almunia, Laszlo Andor, Michel Barnier, Andris Piebalgs, Olli Rehn and Antonio Tajani - back "an ambitious directive."

The November date might also help because some of her allies did not make it to Strasbourg this week.

Catherine Ashton was in Lebanon and Almunia got stuck in an airport. Maria Damanaki, Kristalina Georgieva, Siim Kallas and Connie Hedegaard were also absent.

"We [feminists] are fighting now for 100 years - so, one or two weeks more, what difference does that make? For me, what's important is that a strong piece of legislation comes out of the commission," Reding told press.

In what amounts to a tough day on gender rights, MEPs in Strasbourg on Tuesday also roasted EU Council Herman Van Rompuy over the European Central bank (ECB).

EU leaders are preparing to appoint Yves Mersch, a Luxembourger, to the ECB's male-only board despite a plea by MEPs on the economic affairs committee not to do so.

Van Rompuy admitted there is "blatant under-representation" of women in the financial sector in Europe. He also said he "made a strong appeal" at last week's summit for EU countries to put forward more female candidates for the ECB in future.

But he urged parliament not to vote against Mersch in plenary on Thursday despite the fact his appointment will see the ECB board stay as a male-only club until 2018.

Going back to Reding's quotas, EU institutions admit they do not yet practice what they preach.

Reding noted there are 27 percent women in senior management posts in the commission and 33 percent in the college of commissioners. The ECB has about 40 percent female staff overall. But less than 20 percent of its top 80-or-so directors are women.

An ECB contact told EUobserver it mostly employs economists, IT specialists and lawyers - professions still dominated by men.

"It's still a problem for the generation which is maturing to executive level these days. But I don't think it will be a problem for the next generation," the source said.

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.

Opinion

Time for real debate on EU chauvinism

Sixty five years after the Treaty of Rome, it is time for an open, democratic debate on EU action about sexism on corporate boards, writes Leanda Barrington-Leach.

EU to propose scrapping summer time change

Based on the preliminary results of an online survey in which mostly Germans took part, the EU executive is proposing that the whole EU stops changing times in March and October.

Investigation

How to get around the EU posted workers directive

Some EU careworkers in Belgium receive around €400 a month - despite their carers paying €2,500 a month and paying for flights and accommodation. The answer lies in how firms can skirt the safeguards in the EU's posted workers directive.

News in Brief

  1. British PM scrapes through no confidence vote
  2. Spanish PM calls for EU gender equality strategy
  3. Farage says bigger Brexit majority if second referendum
  4. Macron starts 'grand debate' tour after yellow vests protests
  5. Barnier: up to London to take Brexit forward
  6. Stimulus still needed, ECB's Draghi says in final report
  7. May's Brexit deal defeated by 230 votes
  8. German economy hit by global economic turbulence

Stakeholder

A touch of football at this year's G20 summit

FIFA president Gianni Infantino addressed the G20 leaders and placed football at their disposal as a powerful tool to help them address the challenges facing the world today.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General

Latest News

  1. MEPs allow Draghi's membership of secretive bank group
  2. EU parliament backs Morocco deal despite row
  3. Barnier open to 'future relations' talks if UK red lines shift
  4. German spies to monitor far-right AfD party
  5. On Morocco, will the EU ignore its own court?
  6. UK parliament rejects May's Brexit deal in historic defeat
  7. EU suggests majority vote on digital tax by 2025
  8. MEPs redouble appeal on sexual harassment

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us