“Commission divided over quotas for women”, announces Die Welt. On 23 October, the European executive failed to reach agreement on a project presented by Viviane Reding, which aims to impose a minimum of 40% of women on the boards of publicly-traded companies in the EU by 2020.

The Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship, explains the daily, “was the only woman present to support the proposal. She had to contend with a refusal from the Irish [Máire Geoghegan-Quinn], Swedish [Cecilia Malmström] and Dutch [Neelie Kroes] commissioners”. Opponents of the project “doubt that European law allows Brussels to impinge in such an extensive manner on economic policy in member states”, adds Die Welt, which notesthat “the Commission’s decision was postponed, but the game is not over yet”, because in Germany and in Europe, “the number of supporters for strict quotas is continuing to grow”. Having said that, the daily wonders —

… if women politicians really believe that knowing how many women are present on a given board of directors will have a decisive impact on labour market opportunities for women? It is the market rather than the legislator that has propelled a growing number of women into key posts, because these days quality personnel is increasingly difficult to find.

The quarrel over quotas for women has also emerged in the European parliament, where, on the same day, the Economic Affairs Committee adopted a negative opinion on ECB executive board member candidate Yves Mersch. Notwithstanding his support from EU heads of state, MEPs are opposing the appointment of the General Secretary of the Central Bank of Luxembourg, because they do not want the ECB board to be entirely composed of men. This is the reason for the "power struggle" that is now in progress, notes Financial Times Deutschland. The business daily acknowledges that "the desire for a more accurate reflection on the ECB board of the reality of gender in our societies is understandable". However —

… that does not mean that there should be a fixed quota of women on the board of the ECB, [...] which would be a fatal mistake: the decisions of the ECB have never been more important than they are now in the context of the current crisis. The best specialists have to be represented, and that is why the question of the gender of candidates should not be regulated by a quota. If there is no competent woman, the post should go to a man — and vice versa. But the real question is to know whether these matters are decided on the basis of competence, or by the male dominated world of finance which continues to sustain itself.