FRANKFURT, Sept 7 (Reuters) - European parliament deputies have postponed the appointment of Luxembourg's Yves Mersch to the European Central Bank's Executive Board in protest at "systemic" bias against women in appointments to the institution.
Mersch, the head of Luxembourg's central bank, was set to replace Spaniard Jose Manuel Gonzalez-Paramo, who retired at the end of May. The board post has been vacant as the appointment was linked to broader job changes at European institutions.
Mersch's appointment to the Executive Board will restock the six-person panel with an inflation-busting hardliner and add experience to a recent wave of younger newcomers to the central bank.
But MPs in Strasbourg are concerned at the all-male make-up of the ECB's governing bodies and the failure to consider any female candidates for the appointment, which was the result of hard-fought negotiations among euro zone governments over the past year.
"A decision was taken by the coordinators of the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee to postpone the hearing of Yves Mersch," the parliament said in a statement.
"(The decision was made) after it became evident that no female candidate had been considered for the position."
No new date has been set for the hearing. It will take place only after the committee receives feedback from the EU Council and Eurogroup head Jean-Claude Juncker regarding its request that female candidates be considered and that a medium-term plan to boost gender balance is developed.
"I have received some verbal assurances that no suitable women could be located, but no formal reply nor answer concerning the medium-term plan," Committee chairwoman Sharon Bowles said.
"In consequence it is felt that our concerns have not been addressed in a sufficiently rigorous way and that it is not appropriate to proceed with the hearing at this point in time."
The ECB's 23-member policymaking Governing Council, consisting of six Executive Board members and 17 national central bank governors, has not had a single female since the retirement of Gertrude Tumpel-Gugerell in May 2011.
"The symbolic and practical effects of this absence are not without note," Bowles said. "It does seem, as with corporations, that there is a systemic cultural problem to address."
Euro zone finance ministers nominated Mersch for the Executive Board post in July.
(Reporting by Sakari Suoninen; editing by Patrick Graham)