Sunday

23rd Apr 2017

MEPs' gender vote sparks power struggle with member states

The European Parliament on Thursday (25 October) called on ministers to withdraw Yves Mersch's nomination for the European Central Bank's (ECB) executive board, insisting that a female candidate should be considered for the post.

Despite having the support of the centre-right EPP, parliament's largest political group, Mersch was narrowly rejected by 325 votes to 300 with 49 abstentions. The centre-left, Liberal and Green groups led the vote against him. Deputies said their negative opinion on Mersch was solely because of gender balance.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • EU diplomats said Mersch is likely to get the job anyway (Photo: European Parliament)

The move is the first time that MEPs have rejected a Council-nominated candidate for the ECB's top table. The vote confirmed the stance taken by the assembly's economic and monetary affairs committee, which met with Mersch on Monday.

Speaking after the vote, Guy Verhofstadt, the leader of the liberal Alde group, said it would be "a huge political error for the Council to proceed in complete disregard of the position adopted today."

"They should nominate two new candidates - a man and woman and the best should get the job," he added.

Green group spokesman Sven Giegold said that: "Mersch's candidacy lacks democratic legitimacy; proceeding to appoint him to the ECB's executive board, in spite of today's vote, would create two different levels of legitimacy."

With 14 years of experience as governor of Luxembourg's central bank, Mersch is the bloc's longest-serving central bank boss. He is also regarded as a monetary policy hawk, opposing proposals such as joint liability eurobonds that would communitise sovereign debt, as well as the ECB becoming a lender of last resort.

Before Mersch was nominated by finance ministers in June, Sharon Bowles, the committee chair, wrote to Eurogroup leader Jean-Claude Juncker urging him to consider a female candidate to replace the ECB's Spanish economist Gonzalo Paramo. In their resolution on Mersch's candidacy, MEPs complained that Juncker had not replied.

Although the parliament only has consultative powers over ECB appointments, the move puts eurozone finance ministers in a difficult position.

At a time when ministers and the ECB are under pressure from MEPs to increase parliamentary scrutiny over the ECB's new functions in a proposed "banking union," defying the EU's only directly elected institution would send out a hostile signal.

However, EU diplomats have indicated that member states are likely to ignore the parliament's position and to press on with the appointment regardless.

One contact said ministers would be "extremely reluctant" to create a precedent of parliament turning its consultative powers into a de facto veto.

Another one noted that "parliament has a consultative role and it was consulted," adding that MEPs had not questioned Mersch's qualifications for the post.

Neither Juncker's spokesman nor the ECB were prepared to comment when contacted by this website.

Analysis

Parliament bares teeth on ECB

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

Analysis

France holds nail-biting 'anti-system' vote

Tactical votes could still bring down either of the two favourites in France on Sunday in a nervous election seen as crucial for the future of the EU.

Investigation

Illicit Russian money poses threat to EU democracy

It cost €11 million to help Le Pen campaign in elections, but it cost the Russian mafia less than €100,000 to hire a former UK attorney general to lobby against EU sanctions.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersDeveloping Independent Russian-Language Media in the Baltic Countries
  2. Swedish EnterprisesReform of the European Electricity Market: Lessons from the Nordics, Brussels 2 May
  3. Malta EU 2017Green Light Given for New EU Regulation to Bolster External Border Checks
  4. Counter BalanceCall for EU Commission to Withdraw Support of Trans-Adriatic Pipeline
  5. ACCAEconomic Confidence at Highest Since 2015
  6. European Federation of Allergy and Airways60%-90% of Your Life Is Spent Indoors. How Does Poor Indoor Air Quality Affect You?
  7. European Gaming and Betting AssociationCJEU Confirms Obligation for a Transparent Licensing Process
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region and the US: A Time of Warlike Rhetoric and Militarisation?
  9. European Free AllianceEFA MEPs Vote in Favor of European Parliament's Brexit Mandate
  10. Mission of China to the EUXinhua Insight: China to Open up Like Never Before
  11. World VisionViolence Becomes New Normal for Syrian Children
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsTime to Turn the Tide and End Repression of Central Asia's Civil Society

Latest News

  1. France holds nail-biting 'anti-system' vote
  2. Le Pen-Putin friendship goes back a long way
  3. Mogherini should tell Russians their rights matter
  4. Le Pens Freunde aus dem Trump Tower
  5. Sexe et mensonges: l'information russe sur l'UE
  6. Report: Post-Brexit payments, ECJ jurisdiction could last years
  7. Oxford study raises alarm on 'junk' news in France
  8. Thousands to march in defence of science