Gender Quota (Directive)

The Commission’s proposal comes as no great surprise. By 2020, 40% of the non-executive directors of stock-listed companies are to be women. In order to comply with the principle of proportionality, several exceptions are allowed. For instance, the Directive applies solely to companies with an annual turnover exceeding 50 million and with more than 250 employees. Where a third of the company’s board of directors are already women, then the quota can be considered fulfilled. And if a company can prove that they could not find any eligible female applicants, they do not have to comply with the quota requirement. With regard to filling the positions on management boards, the introduction of a ‘flexi-quota is proposed’, according to which companies set their own targets.

In order to ensure that companies comply with the quota, Member States must provide for penalties -  what form these may take is up to the Member States. They must, however, be effective, proportionate and serve as a deterrent.


The EU does not have the competency to adopt a legally binding gender quota. This is the outcome of a cep position, arrived at after conducting a thorough analysis of all applicable competence standards.