The EU Parliament voted in favour of the draft EU Gender Directive to address gender balance on corporate boards in November 2013 and the Directive then passed to the Council of Ministers. In June 2014, the President of the Council of Ministers issued a Progress Report on the EU directive; it indicates that there is not yet consensus on passing this Directive within the Council of Ministers.
The Progress Report identifies the following outstanding issues:
The legal basis
Certain delegations have questioned the use of Article 157(3) Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) as the legal basis for the proposal. The Commission has reaffirmed the legal basis for the Directive.
The 40% (33%) quantitative objective (Article 4)
The proposed Directive provides that, in seeking to increase the number of boardroom positions held by the under-represented sex, the Member States could either pursue a 40% objective applying to non-executive board members or a 33% objective applying to both executive and non-executive directors. Certain delegations have expressed concerns regarding the viability of the objectives, given that the Member States had different starting points.
Procedural requirements (Articles 2 and 4)
Certain delegations still have concerns regarding the practical implementation of the procedural provisions regarding the process for selecting candidates for appointment or election.
The Progress Report concludes that while all delegations are in principle in favour of improving gender balance on company boards, a number of delegations continue to prefer national measures (or non-binding measures at the EU level) whereas others support EU-wide legislation.
Further work and political reflection will be required before a compromise can be reached.