Auditing, quotas for women and transparency of accounts are all complex dossiers to manage, all the more so given that lobbies are making their presence felt.

The proposal by Viviane Reding, the EU's justice and fundamental rights commissioner, to impose a minimum of 40% of women on the boards of listed companies by 2020 will appear on the Council's agenda and is set to generate some stormy discussions. The idea had already created some opposition in the Commission and raised the hackles of nine EU member states, which, even before they had received the text, notified Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and Reding of their refusal "of legally binding measures taken at the European level".

Ireland was not, however, a signatory to this letter and a spokesperson notes that gender equality is a Presidency priority. Faced with legal obstacles and no doubt also under pressure from her colleagues, the commissioner did nevertheless have to water down her original text. The proposal finally adopted by the College of Commissioners on 14 November stipulates that it is up to EU member states to lay down a system of sanctions if the legislation is breached.

The three-way talks between the European Parliament, the European Council and the European Commission on accounting transparency are ongoing. The two draft directives (on annual accounts and on the harmonisation of transparency obligations) tabled by the Commission in October 2011 aim to reduce the administrative burden and to improve the comparability and clarity of accounts for companies in the EU. Attention has been focused on the obligation for the extractive industries (minerals, oil and natural gas) and those exploiting primary forests to reveal the sums paid to the governments of the countries where they carry out their activities. With the adoption of a compromise amendment on 18 September, members of the European Parliament's Committee on Legal Affairs (JURI) extended the obligation for transparency to big companies and companies of public interest from the telecommunications, construction and banking sectors. According to a source close...

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