The European Union is set to impose quotas to increase the number of women on boards, reports over the weekend suggested.
The Financial Times reported that Viviane Reding, justice commissioner, will announce the first step to legislation on Monday. The EU executive will issue a three-month public consultation that will propose sanctions on companies that do not meet the quotas, which have not yet been detailed.
Norway currently has a quota of 40 percent female board members, though the majority of governments are against their imposition. Prime minister David Cameron said he is against quotas, but would not rule them out if companies did not work faster to increase the number of female board members.
New EU legislation requires a two-thirds backing of member states, but in a recent debate, only Austria, Belgium and Finland backed her out of 27 employment ministers.
Employment minister Norman Lamb said: "We think getting more women on corporate boards is important. But for now, we do not support quotas, nor do we think it's appropriate for Europe to seek to impose them."
Lord Davies of Abersoch, who led a review into boardroom diversity in the UK last year, told the FT: "I do not believe quotas are the answer. I do believe self-regulation is the right way." He added: "I think clearly we would be disappointed if quotas were imposed across Europe; that would be a mistake."
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