Twice in 24 hours the EU is faced with questions about gender. Too few women at the European Central Bank, too few in business.
Viviane Reding, the EU's justice commissioner, is desperate to propose a law that would force listed companies in the EU to ensure that at least 40% of their boards are female by 2020. She is scheduled to make a formal proposal this afternoon.
Just hours earlier, Herman Van Rompuy begged MEPs to back Yves Mersch, the head of Luxembourg's central bank, for a vacant position on the six-man ECB executive board – this would ensure that the board remains an exclusively male preserve until 2018.
There's huge opposition from within the Commission and from national governments to Reding's idea and this might scupper her plan at the 11th hour when all commissioners discuss it today.
But the two issues are linked. Despite the best of intentions (and Van Rompuy insists that he's pushing for women to fill vacancies in EU institutions), actually making it happen is a different matter – as Reding herself has found over the past couple of years when she encouraged better balance of the sexes in company boardrooms as part of self-regulation.
Opposition to Reding's plan stems from the rejection of positive discrimination and the feeling that the EU may be over-extending its reach into matters that should be reserved for member states.
All four of the EU's presidents (Commission, Council, Parliament, and ECB) are men, and, but for a few exceptions in the Parliament, always have been.
The appointment of a woman to the ECB board would have shown that the EU was putting its own house in order before demanding higher standards from business.
UPDATE 17:10 CET: Lack of support has forced Reding to postpone her proposal. She says she will try again by the end of next month, presumably with a watered-down version.
Ian Wishart reports on the eurozone (crisis) for European Voice and has done so since the early days of Greece's first bail-out. He also covers other EU issues affecting business, including technology, financial services legislation, competition and the internal market. This blog brings you commentary on those topics as well as any other subject that may come into his head. Comments are encouraged below each post. Ian can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter.
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