Women must occupy two in five board places in large companies – or the company could be fined.
Under plans being worked up by European Commission, companies with more than 250 employees or more than €50m in revenues will have to reserve 40% of their board places for women, reports the Financial Times.
Failing to do so could result in administrative fines and other sanctions.
The EU is attempting to tackle a gender imbalance recorded across all 27 member-states. The EU found that women occupy only 13.7% of board seats in large listed companies. The slow rate of improvement under a range of voluntary programmes has prompted the implementation of mandatory quotas.
The new legislation, to be introduced next month by Viviane Reding, the EU’s justice commissioner, would bind the UK into adopting the quotas. But a business department source told the Financial Times that the UK remained opposed to the move.
Several countries, including France, Italy and Spain already have national binding quotas and have recorded progress in placing women in top business positions.
Closer to home, Professional Manager revealed in March that the amount of women on the boards of UK FTSE-100 firms has hit record numbers.