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European Parliament backs quotas to get more women on company boards and politics

[Brussels, 14 March 2012] The European Parliament has called on the Commission to take immediate action to introduce binding legislation to put more women into company boardrooms. The Parliament also urged member states and political parties to introduce quotas to reach gender balance in political decision-making.

Quotas for economic and political decison-making were part of the several proposals approved by the Parliament on Tuesday to tackle gender inequality in the EU.

In a debate on Monday, Sophie in’t Veld, the drafsperson for the report ’Equality between women and men in European Union 2011’ urged the European Commission to introduce quotas without delay to tackle women’s underrepresentation on company boards.

"After decades of stagnation and after a year of trying with voluntary measures, I would say that the time to act is here; it is no longer a time for words."

In the same debate, Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding, said proposals to this end may be put forward later this year. Last week the EU’s Justice Commissioner, Viviane Reding, launched a public consultation to generate initiatives - including possible legislation - aimed at redressing the gender imbalance.

In the adopted resolution, the Parliament expressed its disappointment due to the Commission merely launching a consultation and refraining from taking immediate legislative measures. The Parliament calls on the Commission to introduce legislation by the end of the year to increase female representation in corporate management bodies to 30% by 2015 and to 40% by 2020.

On Monday the members of the European Parliament in Strasbourg also called for EU-wide measures to boost female representation in politics.

To ensure gender parity in political decision making, including electoral lists and top EU positions, binding measures and sanctions are needed at national and EU level, says the resolution on women on politics also voted on Tuesday.

In the debate the draftsperson Sirpa Pietikäinen (EPP, FI) drew attention to the lacking gender balance within the European Institutions.

"The results of the most recent elections for the President and Vice-Presidents in Parliament itself were not very encouraging and nor is the current situation. We should not be preaching on issues we are not able to deal with ourselves."

MEPs urge national governments to propose, after the 2014 European elections, both a woman and a man as their candidates for European Commissioner.

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