Today, on 26 January 2021, the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON) of the European Parliament voted in favour of Frank Elderson as Vice-Chair of the Supervisory Board of the ECB’s Banking Supervision. The decision was taken in a secret ballot. EPP, S&D, Renew and us Greens had indicated their approval. There were 46 votes in favour of Elderson, with 6 votes against and 5 abstentions. The result still has to be confirmed by the plenary of the parliament and by the Council of Ministers. Approval can be expected in both cases. The Dutch central banker will thus become the second-highest banking supervisor in the Eurozone after Chairman Andrea Enria. Elderson had already been appointed to the ECB’s six-strong Executive Board in December. Both positions were previously held by Luxembourg’s Yves Mersch, whose term of office ended in December.
The ECB’s Supervisory Board will thus continue to be headed by two men. The board is the highest decision-making body of the European Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM) and is composed of six ECB representatives and the heads of banking supervision from the member states. We Greens would have liked to see a female co-chair. However, the deputy position is filled from the ranks of the ECB’s Executive Board, which currently has only one other woman apart from President Christine Lagarde, the German economist Isabel Schnabel. Schnabel, however, declared in advance that she was reluctant to give up her current role in monetary policy for the SSM post. This left only the three male board members as potential candidates.
There are still far too few women in top financial positions in the Eurozone. In the ECB’s Governing Council, which is composed of the Executive Board and the 19 Eurozone central bank governors, Christine Lagarde and Isabel Schnabel are the only two women among 23 men. The departure of Yves Mersch from the Executive Board in December would have offered the chance to at least ensure gender balance in the ECB leadership. However, the Eurogroup missed this opportunity. In the selection procedure, it did not consider any female candidates and refused to present a gender-balanced shortlist of candidates. However, in 2019, the plenary of the European Parliament had made this a core demand when filling top financial posts in the EU. For this reason, we Greens voted against the appointment of Frank Elderson to the ECB Executive Board in November.
MEP Sven Giegold, financial and economic policy spokesperson of the Greens/EFA group commented:
“Congratulations, Frank Elderson. Elderson stands for strong European banking supervision that rigorously prices in climate risks. With Elderson, banking supervision will become stricter and greener. We Greens will support him in this and look forward to a fruitful cooperation.
Elderson’s nomination was initially overshadowed by the ignorant behaviour of the Eurogroup. The Eurogroup had refused to even consider a woman in the selection process. In doing so, it disregarded an explicit demand of the European Parliament. We Greens had therefore voted against Elderson for reasons of gender justice when he was appointed to the ECB Executive Board. But once Elderson had been appointed to the Executive Board, there was nothing to be gained for gender balance. Isabel Schnabel would have been the only possible female candidate. But she made clear in advance that she was reluctant to give up her current monetary policy role. We Greens did not want to force her into the position against her will. That would be misunderstood feminism.”
European Parliament resolution: Gender balance in EU economic and monetary affairs’ nominations:
My comment on the recommendation of Frank Elderson for the ECB Executive Board by the ECON Committee in November 2020:
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