The initiative, being planned by EU justice commissioner Viviane Reding, aims to bring in a 40-percent female quota on executive boards in all publicly-listed companies with more than 250 employees by 2020.
But according to a report in the Süddeutsche Zeitung, Merkel's government has instructed Germany's representatives in the EU to lobby against the proposed directive and make sure that it does not win a majority in the European Council.
In an internal document seen by the paper, the government ordered officials "as of now to canvass the German position to partners - including at embassy level." The aim of negotiations should be "the rejection of the proposed directive" by "building a blocking minority."
It added that the German government was against the quota "because of fundamental considerations," as it broke the "subsidiarity principle." This principle, enshrined in the European Union Treaty, determines when the bloc is allowed intervene in member states' affairs. The German government believes the EU has no legal justification for imposing the quota.
The government also contends that "a large number" of EU states already reject the quota, including the United Kingdom. Germany is apparently hoping to block the directive on the basis of this Europe-wide alliance.
According to the paper, Merkel sent a written order to Labour Minister Ursula von der Leyen - a known supporter of a women's quota in Germany - to alter her ministry's lack of an objection to the EU directive, so that the cabinet could present a unified face to Germany's EU officials.