Marina Yannakoudakis, Conservative MEP for London, today criticised proposals approved by the parliament’s Women’s Rights and Gender Equalities Committee which called for quotas for female representation and repeated unreasonable demands to introduce 20 weeks of paid maternity leave across the European Union.

Marina, who is Conservative Spokesman for Women’s Rights in the European Parliament, voted against the report but was unable to block all the proposals.

Marina said: “The original text of this report contained some sensible recommendations such as tackling domestic violence and strengthening the fight against honour killings and Female Genital Mutilation.”

“It also took note of my suggestion to broaden the scope of the Women’s Rights committee to cover all forms of equality by including proposals for a Road Map on Equality for LGBTI people as well as the mutual recognition of civil unions and same sex families.”

“In spite of this reasonable foundation, the report was hijacked by uncompromising feminists who want equality at any price.”

Amendments moved by a Liberal and a Green MEP called for Member States to move forward on the European Parliament’s position on the Maternity Leave Directive. Last year the European Parliament voted for a fully-paid maternity leave of at least 20 weeks and two weeks paternity leave. Marina opposed the legislation and instigated an impact assessment which revealed the cost to the UK economy to be £2.5 billion a year. EU Member States have so far not chosen to take up the parliament’s proposals.

Marina said: “Not only is the cost of the EU Maternity Leave Directive prohibitive, but it would actually damage the job prospects of young women, with small businesses in particular thinking twice before employing them.”

The report also contained references to the “Test-Achats case” where the European Court of Justice banned insurers from applying different premiums according to customers’ gender

Marina said: “Women drivers statistically represent a lower risk than men. We need a common-sense approach to legislation on women’s rights. Women should not have to pay the price for equality with higher insurance premiums.”

One of Marina’s amendments on quotas in the boardroom was adopted. She succeeded in removing a proposal to introduce a compulsory quota of 40% women on boards and instead called for a “business-driven” approach.

Marina said: “Quotas are patronising and wrong. I am glad that the condescending proposals for a 40% compulsory quota for women on company boards were rejected. I shall continue to oppose binding targets at the EU level.”

Nevertheless, the report called for Member States to consider legislative measures to introduce quotas for women on political assemblies.

The report will now go to the full parliament with a vote taking place during the March sitting in Strasbourg.

Draft report on Equality between women and men in the European Union - 2011: