The European college of commissioners has postponed plans to impose a binding quota to get more women on company boards, according to the international press.
BBC News says EU justice commissioner Viviane Reding's proposals to make it mandatory for company boards to keep 40%of seats for women will now be put on hold until November.
The quota had already run into problems after EU lawyers said the proposed law might go too far and countries could not be forced to meet the target, the broadcaster reports.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Reding's initiative is among the most far-reaching proposals yet taken in a major economy to ensure better gender balance among company executives.
However, her plans ran into heavy opposition among her colleagues who are pushing for a watering down of the proposal.
A source familiar with the two-hour debate yesterday, said had there been a vote on the plans, Reding "would have lost badly", the paper reports.
The New York Times says the issue has divided the European Union, with the UK leading the countries that regard the rules as counterproductive and unworkable.
Meanwhile, according to the Guardian, the defeat for Reding comes amid another row over sexism.
European council president Herman Van Rompuy has pleaded with the parliament in Strasbourg to endorse the appointment of Yves Mersch (a man) to the European Central Banks' (ECB) executive board.
Mersch's appointment, which looks inevitable despite being delayed by parliamentary opposition on grounds of gender, would make the six-strong ECB executive all male, and its governing council of 23 also exclusively male.