Large listed companies must ensure that women represent at least 40% of their supervisory boards by 2020, according to a deal struck today in Brussels by the legal affairs and women's committees in the European Parliament.

According to recent data published by the European Commission, the proportion of women on the boards of large companies in Europe did not exceed 16.6% in April 2013 compared to 15.8% a year ago.

MEP Evelyn Regner, who led the negotiations for the Socialists and Democrats Group, said:

“I am glad that we were able to reduce the number of exemptions for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

“An exemption for large family companies, as suggested by some of the conservative MEPs, was simply not acceptable. In this case, companies such as BMW and Lego would have been exempted from respecting the 40% target.

“It is important to have as wide a scope as possible. All companies are required to apply a transparent, open selection procedure for the nomination of their board members. The Socialists and Democrats also strived to prevent the exemption of specific sectors and industries.

“We have ensured harsher penalties for companies failing to meet the 40% target. The S&D Group has successfully expanded the list of sanctions to include exclusion from structural funds and from public calls for tender.”

S&D MEP Britta Thomsen and negotiator for the women's committee added:

“European women represent a huge reservoir of talent. They have the longest education. It is common sense that they should have the same opportunities as men to be leaders.

“We simply cannot afford to only recruit board members from one half of the population. Therefore, I am extremely pleased with today's vote.”

  • Gender equality
  • women

MEPs Involved


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