October 23, 2012 - 13:06 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - EU commissioners are due to debate proposals that would force quotas for women on corporate boards, BBC News reports.
EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding is in favor of the proposals to make it mandatory for companies to reserve 40% of seats for women. But several countries, including the UK, are opposed to it.
The debate comes after the European Parliament criticized the lack of female candidates for the European Central Bank (ECB).
A parliamentary committee - in a resolution passed by 21 votes to 12, with 13 abstentions - called on the European Council to withdraw the candidacy of Luxembourg's Yves Mersch for the ECB executive board, saying his appointment would mean that the board would be all male up until 2018.
The debate on Reding's quotas plan is due in Strasbourg on Tuesday, Oct 23. If there is enough agreement, the proposals will be put to the European Parliament, which could vote to make gender quotas mandatory across the 27 countries in the European Union.
At the moment, less than 15% of board positions in EU member states are currently held by women, according to the Commission.
Reding's proposals on compulsory numbers of women come after France, Spain, Italy, Iceland and Belgium introduced quota laws. Norway, which is not an EU member, has had a 40% quota since 2003.
Her opponents argue that voluntary targets and increased efforts to change attitudes would be more effective in the long run.
UK Business Secretary Vince Cable is leading a campaign against the quota proposals, backed by ministers from eight other countries.
In the UK, the percentage of women on the boards of FTSE 100 companies has risen over the past year to a record 16%, but the UK government wants the biggest listed companies to have a minimum 25% of female directors by 2015.