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Mersch’s ECB Approval Held Up by Parliament Protest on Women

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Sept. 7 (Bloomberg) -- A vacancy on the European Central Bank’s Executive Board will go unfilled for at least another month after lawmakers postponed consideration of the nominee, Yves Mersch of Luxembourg, to protest the absence of female candidates.

The European Parliament put off a planned Sept. 10 committee hearing and Sept. 13 confirmation vote on Mersch because there are no women on the ECB board, the parliament said.

“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,” Sharon Bowles, head of the parliament’s Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee, said in an e-mailed statement in Brussels today. “The symbolic and practical effects of this absence are not without note.”

The parliamentary objection is the first since the ECB was set up in 1998. While lawmakers have no power to block ECB appointments, their assent is necessary before central bank candidates picked by euro-area governments can take office.

The ECB seat has been empty since Jose Manuel Gonzalez-Paramo of Spain came to the end of his eight-year term on May 31. A battle between Spain and Luxembourg over the seat dragged on until July when Mersch, 62, prevailed in a vote by euro finance ministers.

Two women, Sirkka Haemaelaeinen of Finland and Gertrude Tumpel-Gugerell of Austria, have served on the ECB’s board. The parliament’s next opportunity to vote on the appointment will be in the week of Oct. 22.

To contact the reporter on this story: James G. Neuger in Brussels at jneuger@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at jhertling@bloomberg.net

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