In a last-minute intervention ahead of a key meeting on who will become the eurozones top banking supervisor, three influential MEPs urged the European Central Bank … not to listen to their colleague Roberto Gualtieri, who suggested a female candidate impressed mainly those “highlighting the importance of ensuring gender balance.”
The ECBs governing council is set to vote Wednesday on who will become the next chair of the Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM), succeeding Danièle Nouy. After hearings in the European Parliament, which has to approve the appointment, two candidates are seen as having the best chances: Sharon Donnery, deputy governor of Irelands central bank; and Andrea Enria, chairman of the European Banking Authority.
In an email to ECB President Mario Draghi, sent Tuesday afternoon and seen by POLITICO, MEPs Markus Ferber, from the European Peoples Party, Green member Sven Giegold, and Tory member Kay Swinburne said: “We feel it is necessary to clarify our positive view of Ms Donnerys performance and suitability for this position. We would like our position being reflected accurately, especially in light of previous comments concerning the need for a gender balance.”
Thats a not-very-veiled criticism of Gualtieris summary of hearings in Parliaments committee on economic and monetary affairs, which Gualtieri, a Socialist from Italy, chairs and of which Ferber, Giegold, and Swinburne are members.
In a letter to Draghi dated October 23, Gualtieri wrote, according to a Bloomberg report, that “those favoring Enria” on the committee stressed “the added value of his stronger experience” while those favoring Donnery highlighted “the importance of ensuring gender balance and promoting female candidates.”
The three MEPs are not amused by that description. “We strongly believe that Ms Donnery performed well in this hearing, giving a convincing account of her qualifications as well as her positions on particular issues,” they wrote.
“We are convinced that Ms Donnerys past experience (e.g. as the Irish Central Banks Alternate Member of the Supervisory Board of the Single Supervisory Mechanism, as Chair of the SSM High Level Group on Non-Performing Loans and as Chair of the ECB Budget Committee) has provided her with the necessary skill set and knowledge to handle the challenges presented to the Chair of the Single Supervisory Mechanism. We also appreciate her competence and commitment to macroprudential supervision.”
“We would like to reiterate that based on these merits, we deem her to be extraordinarily well equipped to become the next Chair of the Single Supervisory Mechanism.”
Gualtieri, in turn, wasnt happy with his colleagues initiative. “My letter to Draghi was sent on behalf of the group and was agreed by coordinators representing 85 percent of the committee,” he told POLITICO, adding that he finds the letter “inappropriate.“
He took particular issue with the fact that a British MEP is among the signatories: “Moreover, I think it is unacceptable that a prominent U.K. MEP takes such an active role in promoting and supporting a specific candidate for the banking union supervision.”
This story was updated to include a comment by Roberto Gualtieri.
Read this next: Trumps narrative vs. Pelosis subpoenas