Friday

20th Sep 2019

Spain blocks male appointment to ECB board

  • Too many Mr Euros in the eurozone, MEPs say (Photo: Valentina Pop)

Spain has blocked the speedy appointment of Luxembourger Yves Mersch to join the European Central Bank (ECB) board amid a controversy on sexism.

Mersch was to be installed in the post by "written procedure" on Monday (5 November) - a protocol in which EU capitals send their agreement to Brussels in writing instead of holding a debate.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

But Spain at the last minute withheld its assent to the use of the written format, meaning that EU leaders are likely to tackle the thorny subject at a summit on 22 November instead.

The delay comes amid a controversy on gender balance.

The European Parliament in a non-binding resolution last week called for Mersch, the head of Luxembourg's central bank, to be held back because his appointment would mean there will be no women on the ECB board until 2016 at the earliest.

"They should nominate two new candidates - a man and woman and the best should get the job," the leader of the Liberal group, former Belgian PM Guy Verhoftsdat said at the time.

For his part, Spanish finance minister Luis de Guindos said from a G20 meeting Mexico that his decision was linked to parliament's opinion that Mersch "is not an ideal candidate."

But one EU source doubted the move had anything to do with gender. The contact said it could be an attempt to influence the terms of a possible ECB bond-buying scheme for Spain: "But it won't work."

Spain itself proposed a male Spanish lawyer, Antonio Sainz de Vicuna, for the ECB post earlier this year.

Meanwhile, an assistant to Sharon Bowles, a British Liberal MEP who heads parliament's economic affairs committee, told this website that Bowles is "pleased" that Mersch was blocked because she did not like the behind-closed-doors decision-making process.

"We didn't like the way it was being done and now [EU leaders] can have a full democratic debate on the subject," the contact said.

Some member states are irked that parliament has waited so late before raising objections.

One source said MEPs should have lobbied Luxembourg, Madrid and other capitals months ago when the nominations were taking shape.

A contact at the ECB in Frankfurt noted that its chief, Mario Draghi, has said several times that he favours "diversity" but that he also wants a speedy board appointment so that the bank can get on with its work.

Update: This story was updated on 6 November, adding the Guindos quote

Analysis

Parliament bares teeth on ECB

The ECB should not make an enemy of the EU parliament as the power of both institutions grows.

Hungary tops EU anti-fraud investigation list

In its annual report, the EU's anti-fraud agency said it concluded nine investigations into Hungary and found irregularities in seven cases. In total, the agency recommended the recovery of €371m EU-wide.

Exclusive

Brexit row delays financial products transparency review

A European financial regulatory body set up after the financial crisis is at loggerheads with the European Commission over whether to carry out a transparency review of certain financial products. The reason: Brexit.

News in Brief

  1. UK Brexit minister to meet Barnier on Friday
  2. Russia-Ukraine gas deal talks show 'progress'
  3. Nobel economist: Ireland 'not good EU citizen' on taxes
  4. Germany takes carbon border tax onboard
  5. Austria to veto EU trade deal with South America
  6. Brexit minister asks EU for 'flexibility' to secure a deal
  7. Kovesi has 'sufficient majority' for prosecutor post
  8. France, Finland give UK ultimatum for Brexit plan

Opinion

Why von der Leyen must put rights at core of business

Ursula von der Leyen's in-tray must include those European executives on trial for systematic workplace harassment, the break-up of European slavery rings, and allegations of European companies' abuse in palm oil, including child labour, land grabs, and deforestation.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  2. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  6. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  8. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  9. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  10. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  11. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat

Latest News

  1. Dismiss Italy's Salvini at your peril
  2. Malta PM accused of 'blackmail' over slain reporter
  3. Diplomats back Romania's Kovesi for EU top prosecutor
  4. Brexit raises questions for EU defence integration
  5. Low-carbon cities can unlock €21tn by 2050, report finds
  6. France, Italy want 'automatic' distribution of migrants
  7. Europe's refugee policy is test of its true 'way of life'
  8. A new Commission for the one percent

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us