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EU bid for women managers contentious

A bid by EU justice commissioner Viviane Reding to force companies to recruit more women as boardroom managers is opposed by nine EU member nations, according to EU sources. Reding's proposal goes to a vote late Tuesday.

Reding's bid to get a 40 percent quota for women on boards of listed companies came to a head on Monday when the European Parliament economics committee blocked Luxembourg's male nomination for the European Central Bank, which has an all-male executive board.

Ahead of Tuesday's vote among the EU's 27 commissioners on whether to institute should adopt a boardroom quota, EU President Herman Van Rompuy acknowledged that a "great deal remains to be achieved" on gender equality in Europe.

He pleaded for acceptance of Luxembourg's nominee, Yves Mersch, while asking the EU parliament to propose female candidates for future "vacant posts at European level," especially in the economic and financial sectors.

Leading Socialist and Liberal parliamentarians urged Rompuy to show that the commission was taking the issue seriously.

Reding acknowledges resistance

Reding has proposed that EU companies listed on stock exchanges reserve 40 percent of supervisory board seats for women by 2020.

"Of course, there will be some opposition," Reding wrote in a social network message on Monday. "But Europe has a lot to gain from more diverse corporate boards."

She added that she had support from at least five commissioners, all men, including Finland's Olli Rehn and Michel Barnier of France.

Currently within the EU, only 13.7 percent of company board members are women, according to commission figures.

ipj/sej (Reuters, dpa, AFP)

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