European Commissioners will score a victory for common sense tomorrow (Tuesday October 23) if, as predicted, they vote to scrap plans for compulsory quotas of women on the boards of major companies.

Conservative MEP Marina Yannakoudakis, who has campaigned vigorously against the quota scheme, hailed the potential rejection of the proposal by the college of Commissioners sitting in Brussels as “good for business and ultimately good for women too.”

She said an arbitrary system of quotas, backed by the threat of swingeing fines against companies which failed to comply, would have been cosmetic and false.

“This interfering piece of window-dressing would have hampered business and done women a disservice, because it would fail to tackle the root causes of the under-representation of women in top jobs.”

According to today’s Financial Times, the scheme for a 40 per cent female quota on listed company boards looks likely to be blocked tomorrow as a rising number of commissioners have expressed outright opposition to the proposal.

At the EU college of commissioners, at least 11 of the 27 are now expected to vote against the legislation championed by Viviane Reding, the EU’s justice commissioner, while only eight are likely to back the proposal, the FT says.

If the plan is indeed defeated, it will be seen as a severe personal blow for Reding, who has invested a great deal of political stock in her high-profile campaign to drive through quotas.

Mrs Yannakoudakis, London MEP and Conservative spokesman on women’s rights in the European Parliament, welcomed the multi-national alliance which seemed set to halt the Reding plan.

Last month, nine countries including the UK wrote to the Commissioners calling on them to ditch all plans for compulsory quotas. Mrs Yannakoudakis observed: “It is clear that many member states are simply fed up of interference in employment law coming out of Brussels.

“Of course there are too few women around our boardroom tables. But the best way to tackle that is to support women at all levels of business, so that they may achieve their full potential on merit.

“In the UK the voluntary system is working and while some member states have introduced their own system of quotas, it should be down to individual organisations and individual countries to make their own arrangements. Nobody should have a set of rigid rules enforced from outside.”