Draghi Sees No ECB Gender Discrimination as Parliament Protests

European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said there’s no discrimination at the central bank after lawmakers postponed consideration of a nominee to the Executive Board to protest the absence of female candidates.

“All of us need improvement and one is the one that is close to your heart,” Draghi said in response to a question at a European Parliament hearing in Brussels today. Still, “there isn’t any gender discrimination in the ECB.”

The parliament on Sept. 7 put off a planned committee hearing and confirmation vote on Luxembourg’s Yves Mersch to fill a vacancy on the ECB board to protest the absence of women on the six-member panel. Sharon Bowles, head of the parliament’s Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee, said in a statement on that day that “the symbolic and practical effects of this absence are not without note.”

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, 63, prevailed in a vote by euro finance ministers. The parliament’s next opportunity to vote on Mersch’s appointment will be in the week of Oct. 22.

There are also no women on the ECB Governing Council. Two women, Sirkka Haemaelaeinen-Lindfors of Finland and Gertrude Tumpel-Gugerell of Austria, have served on the ECB’s board. Appointments to the board and council are made by euro-area governments.

Draghi said in this “time of crisis, the Executive Board should be completed and this nomination should go through.”

Still, he said. “If you look at the last ten years, all the financial crises have been handled and managed by men. So it’s high time to change. We need to look seriously and act.”

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