Thursday

21st Jan 2021

MEPs demand more female candidates for top EU posts

  • The people in power at the European Central Bank are all male, except for one: Chrystalla Georghadji, governor of the Central Bank of Cyprus (Photo: European Central Bank)

The European Parliament said on Thursday (14 March) that in future it would no longer accept nominations for high-level EU jobs if the shortlist did not contain at least one woman and one man.

However, at the same time, it decided to approve the nomination of three candidates - all men - to top posts in three economic EU institutions.

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A broad majority of 453 against 50, with 71 abstentions, supported the non-binding text which stated that MEPs regretted "the fact that women continue to be underrepresented in executive positions in the field of banking and financial services".

They said this was important because "gender balance on boards and in governments ensures broader competence and wider perspectives", and because EU institutions were now "missing out on potentially excellent candidates".

The economic institutions of the EU suffer especially from a lack of gender balance, with the executive board of the European Central Bank (ECB), for example, existing of five men and one woman. The ECB's general council, which includes the governors of the national central banks of the 28 EU countries, has only one female.

The non-binding text was voted on just before MEPs voted on the appointments of new members of the Single Resolution Board, the executive board of the ECB, and a new chair of the European Banking Authority - with all three candidates being male.

The Single Resolution Board has been operational since January 2015, and was set up in response to the banking crisis in the EU. It manages failed banks.

The ECB sets out the eurozone's monetary policy, while the European Banking Authority is another post-crisis institution, set up as a watchdog.

The Green group proposed postponing the vote on those appointments, but that was rejected 190 to 338.

All nominations were then approved by comfortable majorities.

However, the resolution adopted separately said that "in the future, parliament commits itself not to take into account lists of candidates where the gender balance principle has not been respected alongside the requirements concerning qualifications and experience in the selection process".

An amendment from the centre-right European People's Party, to say that parliament "reserves the right" rather than "commits itself" to reject shortlists that lacked a female candidate, was voted down, receiving support from only 201 MEPs of 751.

The non-binding resolution once again called on EU governments "to actively work towards gender balance in their upcoming proposals for shortlists and appointments, endeavouring to include at least one female and one male candidate per nomination procedure".

MEPs said the European Commission "and the large majority of EU governments have so far failed in promoting greater gender balance in EU institutions and bodies", but also put some blame on themselves.

The institution recognised that "parliament itself has not lived up to these standards and pledges to improve its own record of promoting gender balance in the area of economic and monetary affairs".

Parliament's economic and monetary affairs committee has a male chair, three male vice-chairs, and only one female vice-chair.

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