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Economics MEPs denounce member states’ repeated disregard for gender balance

[European Parliament, 22 October 2012] The economic and monetary affairs committee voted on Monday to express its dissatisfaction with member states for repeatedly refusing to recognise the need for a better gender balance within the European Central Bank (ECB). It adopted a negative opinion on the appointment of the ECB executive board member candidate Yves Mersch.

The resolution explains that the European Parliament has been regularly and insistently raising the issue of gender equality in the ECB and it points out that the European Council itself adopted a pact for gender equality in 2011. The resolution also notes that the Council chose to give no formal reply to requests made by the committee in May regarding a better gender balance on the ECB executive board and the need for a strategy to recruit more women to top posts in the ECB, national central banks and finance ministries.

The resolution stresses that it is not the intention of the committee to call into question Mr Mersch´s credentials.

After the vote, committee chair Sharon Bowles (ALDE, UK) said: “I am convinced that the committee has taken the right decision. We are objecting to the EU’s most powerful institution being run only by men for the next six years. It is not only the need for gender balance we are stressing, an issue laudable in itself. At a time when we are doing all that we can to change the culture of financial services and to avoid a repeat of the financial crisis, it is baffling that member states are not pushing for more women in key finance positions. Mr Van Rompuy now has the last opportunity tomorrow, when he addresses the plenary, to show us that member states are ready to commit seriously to encouraging women into top positions”.

The plenary will vote on Thursday, 25 October..

Background

For over two years the issue of a risk of gender imbalance at the ECB has been raised in plenary and in committee, notably at the hearings of nominees for ECB posts such as Peter Praet, Mario Draghi, Jorg Asmussen and Benoit Coeuré.

The committee addressed a letter on 8 May to Eurogroup President Jean-Claude Juncker asking for women to be considered for the executive board post before a candidate was recommended and for member states to present a medium-term plan for the recruitment of more women to top posts in the ECB, and national central banks and finance ministries. At the same time some members of the economic affairs committee drew up an informal list of potential women candidates for the ECB post. The EP is not officially required to draw up such a list.

Mr Gonzalez Paramo’s mandate as member of the ECB executive board expired On 31 May.

On 10 July, the Council recommended Yves Mersch as candidate for the vacant post of ECB executive board member.

Having received no medium-term plan as requested and no assurance that women had been considered for the vacant post, the committee’s coordinators decided on 5 September to postpone the hearing of Yves Mersch scheduled for 10 September.

On 19 September and 3 October respectively, EP President Martin Schulz also raised the issue in letters to European Council and Commission Presidents Herman Van Rompuy and José-Manuel Barroso.

In the chair: Sharon Bowles (ALDE, UK)

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