As the European Parliament’s women’s rights committee gets set to vote on plans to introduce a 40% quota for women on boards today, Conservative MEP Marina Yannakoudakis, who strongly opposes the plans, has condemned amendments tabled by fellow MEPs as “beyond the pale”.

Amendments which would widen the scope of the proposals to include both executive directors and SMES as well as introducing strict sanctions on non-compliant companies including their exclusion from public tenders.

Mrs. Yannakoudakis said of the wider-reaching proposals:

“Quotas for women on boards at the European level are unwelcome and unnecessary. We have had enough of Brussels interfering in our employment law and at a time when nearly a quarter of all appointments to British boards are women, we do not need legislation to address the problem of under-representation.

“If quotas are extended to small and medium-sized enterprises it will make things even worse for struggling small businesses already under the pressure of burdensome EU regulation.

“We need to work with companies to encourage them to appoint more women at all levels of business, not just to boards. The threat of strict sanctions will not bring more women onto boards, it will merely drive business out of the EU. And the EU certainly has no right to dictate who companies should appoint as their executive directors.”