* New plan foresees bias towards equally qualified women
* Earlier plan for strict 40 percent quota hit opposition
* Commission lawyers approve new plan, commissioners vote
By Claire Davenport
BRUSSELS, Nov 12 The European Commission has
dropped a plan to force firms to give 40 percent of
non-executive board positions to women in favour of a less
drastic obligation to favour female candidates where they are
equally qualified, an EU source said on Tuesday.
The quota proposal had run into opposition from a number of
countries, led by Britain, and from large firms.
Commission lawyers said it was "problematic" for the
European Union to impose strict quotas, though it could instruct
companies on how to hit quotas.
The new proposal would now oblige companies with more than
250 staff to favour "the underrepresented sex" from 2016 onward
in order to achieve 40 percent female representation, the source
said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Member countries would have the power to determine and
impose sanctions on firms that did not obey the rule.
The 27 European Commissioners are scheduled to vote on the
proposal on Wednesday. If a majority approve, the plan will then
be voted on by the European Parliament and the 27 member