Getting more women on company boards has been a long cherished aim for many senior EU officials. The problem is how to break the glass ceiling?
Europe’s Justice chief Viviane Reding wants quotas, forcing firms to reserve 40 percent of their top jobs for women by 2020.
But, the EU Commission, which met in Strasbourg on Tuesday, remains deeply divided on the issue. Many of Reding’s colleagues, notably women, still support self-regulation. Five of the Commission’s nine female commissioners are said to oppose Reding’s proposal. The result was that there is no decision yet.
“Look, we are fighting now for 100 years. Now, one or two weeks more, what’s the difference. For me what is important, is that a strong piece of legislation comes out of the Commission. We need more time, the legal service needs more time also to look at the proposals,” European Commission Vice-President and Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding said.
The delay means no deal between EU chiefs is likely until November at the earliest. But even if Reding does get the green light from her colleagues she faces an up-hill struggle convincing member states to agree, with several countries, including the UK, opposed.
Speaking to euronews, centre-left MEP Britta Thomsen said: “We all agree that there are too few women on the boards of enterprises. Where we perhaps disagree is the methods. But, we need more women on the boards of enterprises.”
British Conservative MEP Marina Yannakoudakis added: “We need to have a debate, the debate is very important, but we don’t need legislation coming from Europe. Each member state has to find a solution that is the best suited for their industry, their economy, and their way of life.”
Men represent more than 85 percent of all executive posts in the bloc, an imbalance Reding and other prominent women in the EU want to correct.