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05/11/2012Spain blocks ECB nominee as gender row deepens
Spain blocked Monday the appointment of another man to the all-male ECB's executive board but a source said Madrid's decision was motivated by a desire to regain influence at the top of the eurozone's central bank.
A Spanish diplomat told AFP that Madrid thinks "there should be a further discussion" among leaders on how to fill the post, after blocking an attempt by other member states to confirm the appointment by a Monday deadline for written objections.
"The European Council was not today in a position to take a decision by written procedure on the appointment of a new member of the ECB executive board," said a statement issued by the body that groups the leaders of EU member states.
"The issue will be on the agenda of an upcoming meeting in the European Council with the objective of taking the formal decision," the statement added, with decisive summits due on November 22-23 and December 13-14.
The decision to go through the European Council was taken after the European Parliament voted against endorsing the nomination of Luxembourg's Yves Mersch to the six-seat European Central Bank executive board, citing a lack of women candidates.
Mersch was named in preference to a male Spanish candidate to replace Spain's Jose Manuel Gonzalez-Paramo and a European source said Madrid was unhappy at what it saw as a "non-transparent" appointment, and that Madrid wants to retain influence at the top of the central bank.
Influence is key for the Spanish government, which is expected to seek financial aid from eurozone partners over coming months with the ECB expected to play a key role in any bailout.
Leaders have already discussed what has become a running sore about a lack of women candidates but Spain's decision suggests wider factors will come into play.
European lawmakers Sylvie Goulard and Sven Giegold said in a statement that they wanted parliament's head, Martin Schulz, to ask EU leaders to come up with a new candidate.
The Parliament has already suggested women it would consider qualified to start redressing the ECB's gender balance.
At the summits, unlike the unanimous written procedure, only a majority vote would be required to push through the appointment, meaning Spain could not block Mersch's appointment by itself.
Mersch's qualifications or abilities have not been in dispute. Instead the appointment became a political football with calls for women candidates to be brought forward and complaints that EU leaders were ignoring Parliament.
The last woman on the ECB board was Austria's Gertrude Tumpel-Gugerell between 1998 and 2011.
© 2012 AFP
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