Thursday

1st Sep 2016

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.

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.

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.

Warning over Europe's sugar-guzzling habits

Europeans get through a huge amount of sugary drinks, causing serious risks to their health, a study backed by anti-obesity campaigners suggests. But southern Europe has seen a marked decline in consumption.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EBECBright Engineering Students Designed the Future, Today at the BEST Competition
  2. Access NowInternet wins! Net Neutrality Victory in EU
  3. EuridThe 2016 .eu Web Awards is a Chance to Make Dreams Come True so Vote Today !
  4. Nordic CouncilNordic-Baltic Co-operation Vital in Turbulent Times
  5. GoogleBrussels: Home of Beer, Fries, Chocolate and Google’s Policy Team - follow @GoogleBrussels
  6. HuaweiSeeds for the Future Programme to Bring Students to China for ICT Training
  7. EFASpain is Not a Democratic State. EFA Expresses Solidarity to A. Otegi and EH Bildu
  8. UNICEFBoko Haram Violence in Lake Chad Region Leaves Children Displaced and Trapped
  9. HuaweiMaking Cities Smarter and Safer
  10. GoogleHow Google Makes Connections More Secure For Users
  11. EGBAThe EU Court of Justice Applies Proportionality in Assessing Gambling Laws
  12. World VisionThe EU and Member States Must Not Use Overseas Aid for Promoting EU Interests

Latest News

  1. Verheugen went off-script in VW cheat testimony
  2. Poland may remove constitutional judges
  3. Spain's Rajoy faces uphill battle to win MPs' support
  4. Russia and Turkey restart talks on EU gas pipeline
  5. MEPs call for reconciliation with Turkey
  6. Egypt blames EU-Turkey deal for refugee spike
  7. EU dithering aggravated refugee crisis, Merkel says
  8. Verheugen did not think VW cheating was morally possible