ECB nomination held up over lack of women

AP News
Posted: Sep 07, 2012 6:36 AM

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — The European Parliament has put off a hearing on a nominee for a top European Central Bank job to underline concerns over the absence of women in leadership posts at the eurozone's monetary authority.

Yves Mersch was to appear before the economic and monetary committee Monday on his nomination to a vacancy on the ECB's six-member executive board. Mersch is head of Luxembourg's central bank.

Committee head Sharon Bowles said Friday that she had not received an adequate answer from eurozone finance ministers to a letter asking that at least one woman candidate be considered for the job.

Bowles said the letter to Jean-Claude Juncker, who chairs the grouping of euro finance ministers, also encouraged the ministers to implement a plan to advance women to influential positions at the ECB, national central banks and finance ministries in coming years.

She said she received "some verbal assurances that no women could be located" but no formal reply and no answer regarding the plan to promote women.

"There is now not even a single woman sitting on the main board of what is one of the most powerful and essential institutions in the EU," Bowles said in a statement. "The symbolic and practical effects of this absence are not without note."

No women sit on the executive board that runs the bank day to day, or on the bank's 23-member governing council that sets interest rates. The executive board had one woman member from the bank's founding in 1998 until Gertrude Tumpel-Gugerell left in May 2011.

The European Parliament can delay the nomination but lacks the power to block it. It must give an advisory opinion on the suitability of candidates for ECB posts. That opinion can be disregarded by European leaders, who make the appointments.