'Promoting females is a key reason to give Donnery EU bank role'
Irish Central Bank deputy governor Sharon Donnery's gender was highlighted as a key reason she should get a top EU bank regulator job, according to the head of the European Parliament Committee that recommended her.
The European Central Bank's board will decide today whether Ms Donnery or Italian candidate Andrea Enria will be the next chair of the board of the powerful Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM).
This is the agency set up after the crash to ensure robust banking supervision across the euro area.
The two candidates emerged from a round of behind-closed doors interviews in Brussels with members of the European Parliament's Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs.
A third candidate, Robert Ophele of France, didn't make it past the committee stage.
Now it has emerged that the head of the committee that sent both Ms Donnery and Mr Enria forward for consideration, Italian MEP Roberto Gualtieri, said the MEPs who backed the Italian cited "the added value of his stronger experience".
Meanwhile, those favouring Ms Donnery were "highlighting the importance of ensuring gender balance and promoting female candidates".
The comments are from a letter sent by Mr Gualtieri to the ECB and were reported by Bloomberg yesterday.
The confidential letter obtained by Bloomberg summarised the views of committee members. Fine Gael MEP for Dublin Brian Hayes is vice-chairman of the committee.
In the letter sent on October 23, Mr Gualtieri said that both candidates emerged as frontrunners and that the overall views among lawmakers were balanced.
The European Parliament is known to be keen to see more women in senior EU roles, but the explicit focus on Ms Donnery's gender is likely to be controversial, especially when the focus in relation to her rival was on his experience.
Ms Donnery has a career spanning over 20 years in monetary policy, banking supervision and management of bad loans.
She is deputy governor of the Central Bank of Ireland and was previously in charge of overseeing Irish banks.
She also led the ECB task force that has pushed banks to reduce bad debts faster, a move that's notably raised hackles in Italy, including criticism from European Parliament president Antonio Tajani and Mr Gualtieri himself.
Mr Enria is the current chairman of the European Banking Authority (EBA), the body that drafts technical standards for regulating lenders.
The ECB's Governing Council is due to vote on the appointment today.
Once that happens the name goes back to the European Parliament for confirmation, and ultimately must also be signed off by euro area members state government.