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Delay in EU plan to set 40% board quota for women

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Delay in EU plan to set 40% board quota for women

Photo © endostock - Fotolia

(STRASBOURG) - An EU move to set a 40-percent quota for women on the boards of listed companies was delayed "several weeks" on Tuesday amid an ongoing row over the lack of female candidates for a key European Central Bank job.

Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding, who had been scheduled to present the 40-percent plan, said on twitter: "Gender balance directive postponed."

"I will not give up," read another Reding tweet. Commission president Jose Manuel "Barroso will put this on the Commission agenda before the end of November."

Reding said she had failed to raise sufficient support for the idea within the 27-member commission. A source close to the matter told AFP the European Union executive was sharply divided on the matter.

The delay came a day after the European parliament's economic affairs committee rejected the nomination of Luxembourg's Yves Mersch to the ECB, because his appointment would result in an all-male executive board until 2018.

Adressing parliament Tuesday, EU president Herman Van Rompuy insisted it was urgent to fill the ECB vacancy while appealing to Europe's leaders "to identify and propose good female candidates for vacant posts" at the European level.

This was especially important "in the economic and financial sectors, where the under representation of women is blatant," he said.

But he added: "I hope that, with such renewed commitment to gender balance, Parliament will base its final decision on the current candidate ... on the sole criteria of professional qualification and experience."

Reding has whipped up a separate controversy with her call for legally binding provisions for women on European company boards.

Last month, nine EU member states joined forces to thwart EU moves to set legally binding provisions for women on company boards in Europe.

The letter recognised "there is a problem ... that there are too few women and there must be efforts to promote women but these should be national approaches."

Sources said it was signed by Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Hungary, Malta, the Netherlands and Britain -- likely enough votes to block the proposal coming to an EU vote.

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