Women on boards: MEPs urge ministers to agree a position at last  

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The European Parliament has done its work on a draft EU directive to ensure that by 2020 at least 40% of non-executive directors on listed company boards are women. Now it is up to the Council of Ministers to agree a position on the draft and start negotiations with Parliament, reiterated many MEPs in Wednesday’s debate, with a view to a Council meeting on 7 December.

Parliament approved the draft back in November 2013, but two years on it is still blocked in the Council. MEPs asked the Council what is preventing EU member states from reaching a common position.


Call for binding measures

Many MEPs said that only EU-wide legislation will really improve the position of, and opportunities for, women in Europe.

"The legal basis chosen - a directive - and the resolution voted by the European Parliament, already give flexibility to member states. Ultimately, the only thing we expect, and have been expecting for two years now, it is a commitment by member states and consistent action to achieve genuine results, thanks to the only ongoing legislative file on gender equality”, said co-rapporteur Mariya Gabriel (EPP,BG).

"Between the publication of the proposal for a directive in November 2012 and today, the share of women among board members has grown from 15.8% to over 20%. These are facts, which show that legislative pressure works", she added.

Open, fair and transparent rules

"I have always signalled my readiness to negotiate with the Council and to talk about the problems some member states might have", said co-rapporteur Evelyn Regner (S&D, AT).

“This directive is not a ‘women’s quota’. It lays down a transparent, fair rules for appointing non-executive directors to company boards. It aims to make appointment procedures open, transparent and fair for all candidates, for both, women and men. We have a gentle directive that respects subsidiarity and gives member states enough room for manoeuvre to implement it", she added.


Council position


The Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council meeting on Monday 7. December 2015 will try to agree a position on the draft directive.

"Three key words: responsibility, flexibility, and concrete commitments. That is what we expect from member states, said Ms Gabriel (EPP, BG).