FRANKFURT, Germany – A European Parliament committee has voted against the nomination of Luxembourg's top central banker to a post at the European Central Bank, saying eurozone leaders should have looked at female candidates at a time when the bank has no women among its top leadership.
The unprecedented "no" vote Monday from the economic and monetary affairs committee comes after legislators complained no women were considered along with Yves Mersch.
The nomination now goes to the full parliament. Legislators' opinion is advisory and they cannot block Mersch's nomination for a seat on the six-member ECB executive board. The board runs the bank day to day at its headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany.
Still, the rejection underlines legislators' effort to get EU leaders to come up with a plan to recruit more women for such posts.
There are no women occupying any of the top leadership posts at the ECB. The bank had one woman on the board from 1999 until Gertrude Tumpel-Gugerell's term ended in May, 2011. There are no women among the 17 national central bank heads who together with the executive board make up the 23-member rate-setting council.
ECB President Mario Draghi told the committee earlier this month that the gender balance issue needed to be taken seriously. But he urged legislators to approve the nomination. The ECB is confronting a heavy workload during the eurozone debt crisis with missions to verify bailed-out countries' compliance with their loan agreements, and will soon start gearing up to serve as the single European Union banking supervisor.
Mersch was nominated by European governments after extensive political horse trading for the spot vacated when Jose Manuel Gonzalez-Paramo's term expired May 31. The seat has been vacant since then.
The committee's resolution said that the legislators did not question Mersch's credentials.
Committee Chairwoman Sharon Bowles said in a statement that "we are objecting to the EU's most powerful institution being run only by men for the next six years" when the next vacancy is slated to arise.
"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," she said.