Decision on vacant executive board position will now be taken at this month's summit.
Spain's government has blocked the appointment of Yves
Mersch to the executive board of the European Central Bank (ECB).
The European Union's Council of Ministers was hoping to
approve the selection of Mersch, the head of Luxembourg's central bank, today,
using a fast-track written procedure.
However, Spain has rejected the move and Mersch's
much-delayed appointment will now go before leaders of eurozone member states
at the European Council summit in Brussels on 22-23 November.
In a statement, the Council said that the summit would have
“the objective of taking the formal decision” on the ECB post.
However, if Spain can win support for its stance, doubts
will grow as to whether Mersch will ever take up the role.
Today's development represents a partial victory for the
European Parliament which opposed Mersch's selection on the basis that it would
mean that the ECB board would remain men-only until 2018 – although there is no
indication that Spain has blocked the written procedure over the issue of
When the vacancy arose earlier this year Spain had argued
against Mersch, seen as a hard-liner, putting forward ECB lawyer Antonio Sáinz
de Vicuña for the role.
In a statement, Sven Giegold, a German Green MEP, and Sylvie
Goulard, a French Liberal MEP, who have been at the forefront of opposing
Mersch's appointment on the grounds of gender equality, said that the decision
by Spain “strengthens democracy”.
They said that the Council had “tried to use force” in its
attempt to conclude the matter by written procedure over a holiday weekend “on
They added: “The battle continues to avoid an executive
board of the ECB made up of only men, in violation of the fundamental rights of
the European Union.
“We again ask the president of the European
Parliament...to request the Council to
withdraw its nomination and to submit a new nomination to Parliament, which
should be a competent female candidate.”
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