This week the European Parliament has voted against the appointment of Yves Mersch to the board of the European Central Bank by 325 to 300 votes. The reason is that Mersch is a man. The national governments of the eurozone have been repeatedly appointing men to the board so the Parliament put its foot down in order to try to secure some gender balance.
The Parliament's role in this process is only consultative so the governments could ignore the vote and appoint Mersch anyway, but this would be a unique situation of picking a fight with the Parliament. There is a precedent in parliamentarising appointments to the ECB. In 1998, the ECB's first President Wim Duisenberg, undertook to withdraw his candidacy if he failed to secure parliamentary backing. In so doing, Duisenberg killed two birds with one stone. He made the ECB appear more legitimate and accountable - but in becoming accountable to the European Parliament, the ECB could insure its independence and lack of accountability to national parliaments. If Mersch is nonetheless appointed, the ECB may find that it has to account to national politics and loses an ally in the European Parliament, which controls the ECB's administrative purse strings.