Politics Life at 28

European Institutions: Battle to put a woman on the ECB executive board

6 November 2012
Presseurop
Financial Times, Les Echos

“If you thought the long, drawn-out saga of Yves Mersch’s nomination to a seat on the European Central Bank’s powerful executive board could not get any stranger, think again,” announces the Financial Times. The business daily reports that the Luxembourg banker whose appointment was previously rejected for reasons of gender parity by the European Parliament has now run into further opposition from the Spanish government in Madrid, which –

… informed Herman Van Rompuy, the European Council president, that it objected to the fast-track “written procedure” Van Rompuy had begun in order to get Yves Mersch finally seated on the ECB’s executive board.

Naturally, adds the FT, Spain is attempting –

… to put a Spanish candidate back on the table. And with the European Parliament refusing to endorse Mersch because of a lack of any women on the ECB board, officials say they now expect Rajoy to come to Brussels with a female Spanish candidate – potentially Belen Romana Garcia, former director of the Spanish treasury. [...] The one corner that is cheering is the European Parliament, which now believe its effort to get a woman on the ECB board – viewed as recently as last week as entirely Quixotic – may finally bear fruit.

However, warns Les Echos, Spain’s decision is not evidence –

unbridled feminism, but of its drive to better defend its interests. [And] Heads of state and government from other countries, who are clearly intent on pushing ahead [with Mersch], will do whatever it takes to overcome opposition from Madrid.

The story, adds the business daily, also raises questions about the functioning of European institutions –

Why has the Council so tactlessly gone against the wishes of Parliament, at a time when all the governments agree that the Strasbourg based assembly should be reinforced to increase Europe’s legitimacy? The bulk of the blame lies with the way international organisations work. [...] And there is also another reason for the Council’s choice: the select milieu of central banking which inducts experts through co-optation. [...] The real problem is that are extremely few women in this circle. The seats on the board of the ECB will be filled by men for some time to come.