Tuesday

24th Oct 2017

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.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

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.

Macron puts trade policy on summit table

France's president wants a "political discussion" on EU trade policies at Thursday's summit, amid domestic concerns over Canada and South America deals. But his colleagues are likely to avoid a lengthy debate.

News in Brief

  1. Don't let City of London 'drift away', Luxembourg warns
  2. Far-right enters German parliament officially
  3. Orban declares migrant-free zone in Eastern Europe
  4. Madrid set to use force to stop Catalonia independence
  5. May: EU member states will not lose out with Brexit
  6. Slovakia pledges to be 'pro-European' oasis in region
  7. Report: Catalan leader to address Spanish senate
  8. Fiat-Chrysler 'obstructed justice' reports Le Monde

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Martens CentreI Say Europe, You Say...? Interview With EU Commission VP Jyrki Katainen
  2. Mission of China to the EUPresident Xi Jinping Proposes Stronger Global Security Governance at Interpol Assembly
  3. European Friends of ArmeniaEU Engagement Could Contribute to Lasting Peace in Nagorno-Karabakh
  4. UNICEFViolence in Myanmar Driving 12,000 Rohingya Refugee Children Into Bangladesh Every Week
  5. European Jewish CongressBulgaria Applauded for Adopting the Working Definition of Antisemitism
  6. EU2017EENorth Korea Leaves Europe No Choice, Says Estonian Foreign Minister Sven Mikser
  7. Mission of China to the EUZhang Ming Appointed New Ambassador of the Mission of China to the EU
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsEU Should Seek Concrete Commitments From Azerbaijan at Human Rights Dialogue
  9. European Jewish CongressEJC Calls for New Austrian Government to Exclude Extremist Freedom Party
  10. CES - Silicones EuropeIn Healthcare, Silicones Are the Frontrunner. And That's a Good Thing!
  11. EU2017EEEuropean Space Week 2017 in Tallinn from November 3-9. Register Now!
  12. European Entrepreneurs CEA-PMEMobiliseSME Exchange Programme Open Doors for 400 Companies Across Europe

Latest News

  1. Barnier plays down hope of 'special' Brexit deal
  2. MEPs demand external probe into EU Parliament sex abuse
  3. EU states overcome divisions on posted workers
  4. How Romania became EU workers' rights 'guinea pig'
  5. Left unchecked, Poland's attack on rights will harm EU
  6. EU commission denies May 'begged for help' comments
  7. Interpol needs EU help to stop abuse
  8. Glyphosate protesters hold meeting with Commission