Wednesday

18th Sep 2019

Parliament snubs ECB on 'gender bias'

  • Bowles next to ECB chief Mario Draghi - the British MEP is tipped for the top financial job in London (Photo: europarl.europa.eu)

MEPs in the economic and monetary affairs committee accused eurozone finance ministers of "gender bias" on Monday (22 October) in a vote against the nomination of Yves Mersch to the board of the European Central Bank (ECB).

Despite pro-Mersch amendments by some MEPs from the two main political groups - the centre-right EPP and the centre-left S&D - the negative resolution got through by 21 votes to 12 with 13 abstentions.

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

The European Parliament has no legal power to block Mersch.

But its political move is the first time it has used its consultative role to reject an ECB candidate.

His appointment would mean that there would be no women at the ECB's top table for at least the next six years, when its vice-president, Vitor Constancio, is due to leave.

The board has been male-only since May 2011 when Gertrude Tumpel Gugerell left.

British Liberal deputy and committee chair Sharon Bowles said in a statement that MEPs could overturn their decision in Thursday's plenary vote provided that European Council chief Herman Van Rompuy sets out concrete plans to improve gender balance in the bank and in top posts in EU national finance ministries and central banks.

Van Rompuy will address MEPs later on Tuesday when he reports back on last week's EU summit.

During an uncomfortable hearing with Mersch in which MEPs lambasted the Council while saying they did not question Mersch's professional competence, the Luxemburger refused to withdraw his nomination when asked to do so by Swedish Liberal deputy Olle Schmidt.

"We don‘t have anything against you ... But what can we do when Council behaves so badly?" French Liberal MEP Sylvie Goulard said.

Mersch noted he had the support of ministers and that to reject him would be an unnecessary distraction as the ECB battles with the crisis.

"An engine [the board] with six cylinders that runs on five is suboptimal," he said.

For her part, Bowles added it is "baffling that member states are not pushing for more women in key finance positions."

Bowles herself is among leading candidates to succeed Mervyn King as the next governor of the Bank of England.

Sven Giegold, a German Green MEP, said the committee vote would send "a strong political signal to EU governments that they cannot continue to ignore the exclusion of women from the eurozone's highest decision-making bodies."

Analysis

Parliament bares teeth on ECB

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

Opinion

Time for real debate on EU chauvinism

Sixty five years after the Treaty of Rome, it is time for an open, democratic debate on EU action about sexism on corporate boards, writes Leanda Barrington-Leach.

Column

These are the crunch issues for 2019-2024 EU commission

These developments will largely determine who will be running the world in the coming decades and perhaps generations. If the Europeans can't find an answer over the five years, they will be toast. And we haven't even mentioned climate change.

Magazine

The changing of the guards in the EU in 2019

The four most powerful EU institutions - Commission, Parliament, Council and Central Bank will all have new leaders in the coming ten months. Here is an overview.

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. How EU trains discriminate against the disabled
  2. These are the crunch issues for 2019-2024 EU commission
  3. Defending the 'European way of life' name splits MEPs
  4. Hungary claims EU 'witch-hunt' over rule of law hearing
  5. Trumpworld In Europe
  6. How EU firms and banks help fund Amazon fires
  7. Amazon fires mean EP must rethink Mercosur trade deal
  8. EU must give full support to Ukraine to dissuade Kremlin

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us