Précis - The decision on a proposed EU-wide plan to impose a 40% female quota on listed company boards has recently been postponed.
What? The European Commission has reported that less than 15% of board positions across EU member states are female. Following the introduction of domestic quota laws in France, Spain, Italy, Iceland and Belgium, EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding has pushed for a vote making it mandatory for companies to keep 40% of board seats for women.
Commenting on the news, Audrey Williams, partner and discrimination law expert at Eversheds, says:
"Such a controversial proposal was never going to get an easy ride and it is unsurprising that there was strong opposition. Viviane Reding now has an opportunity to review her proposals and come back with something more palatable for those who were against her original plan. To address concerns that the proposed Directive could be unlawful, that could mean a significant watering down of the sanctions facing companies that don't reach any target. If the Commissioners can reach a consensus, any proposed new law will have to be approved by the EU Parliament and Council. The Parliament will almost certainly vote in favour and, if the proposal is diluted by the Commission, could well vote to beef it up again. However, a strict quota law with tough sanctions is likely to be blocked in the Council given that a number of member states (including the UK) said they were opposed to Reding's proposal in its original guise."