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European Commission adopts ‘watered down’ text on Company gender quotas

“Weakened proposal missing concrete measures” says PES Women President

Party of European Socialists (PES) Women President, Zita Gurmai (MEP), has expressed her disappointment at today’s European Commission proposal on gender quotas in company boards.

The proposal had been originally tabled on 23 October but postponed until today. The postponement was widely perceived as being due to European Commission Vice-President Viviane Reding’s mishandling of the dossier.

Zita Gurmai stated; “I regret the very weak text that Commissioner Reding has finally presented to the College of Commissioners. This text falls short of any concrete and key measures, falls short as a strong political signal and most importantly, falls short of European women’s expectations. We must now rely on the European Parliament to give this proposal real substance.” 

The new proposal agreed by the Commission has been watered down;

  • Quotas are only applicable to non-executive positions. Executive board of directors are only encouraged to apply “flexi-quota”, i.e. self-regulation, so the Directive is not innovative compared to the current state of play
  • Any sanctions are to be defined at national rather than EU level
  • There will be a time-limit (31 December 2028) to the directive
  • Small and Medium Enterprises (SME’s) are all excluded from the directive even SMEs listed on stock exchanges; the Directive will only apply to 5000 companies in the EU, which is an insignificant number compared to the amount of existing companies in the EU
  • Company with workforce that has less than 10% women to be exempt. 

Ms. Gurmai said that; “We must look to Members of the European Parliament to reintroduce elements like European level sanctions, binding legislation and identify additional incentives to encourage women’s participation in company boards. Beyond the indisputable point on Democracy, Justice and Equality, we must remember that all the evidence suggests that a more balanced board also means a better performing business”.

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