Conservative MEP Marina Yannakoudakis today welcomed the European Commission’s climb-down on compulsory quotas for women on the boards of publicly-traded companies.

The revised plan suggests a target of 40% for women in non-executive posts on boards and leaves member states to decide how to deal with companies which do not meet the quota.

The plans have been diluted following a rejection by European Commissioners of Vice President Reding’s plan for compulsory quotas late last month. The original proposals were blocked following legal objections based on European Court of Justice rulings that only temporary measures to help the under-represented gender are acceptable.

Commissioners also expressed doubts about the usefulness of opening a debate on a particularly controversial matter at the present time, especially with regard to increasing the administrative burden on companies when they faced significant economic challenges and had to increase their competitiveness in view of the crisis.

Marina Yannakoudakis, her party’s spokesman on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality in the European Parliament, described the revised plan as “a victory for common sense.”

She said, “We need to look very carefully at the new EU plans. I am pleased that the compulsory nature of the quotas has been watered down, but this is a legally binding directive and I am not happy with any interference by Brussels in UK employment law.

“I shall continue to fight any burdensome regulation which will increase red tape and increase the danger of capital flight from the EU.

“The proposals not only need to be right for business, but also right for women. Women have no desire to be condescended to. I shall ensure that while we work to increase the participation of women at every level of business, our ultimate aspiration should be for fair and meritocratic appointments.”

The proposals will now be referred to the European Parliament and are likely to be steered through the Women’s Rights and Gender Equality where Marina is the co-ordinator for the European Conservatives and Reformists Group.