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UPDATE 1-EU Parliament leaders to reject Mersch for ECB

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* EU Parliament in row over gender bias at ECB

* Yves Mersch to have hearing with parliament Oct. 22

* Mersch likely rejected on gender grounds

* ECB to uphold Mersch's candidacy

(Updates up with quotes, details)

By Claire Davenport

BRUSSELS, Oct 11 (Reuters) - The European Parliament is setto reject Luxembourg central banker Yves Mersch's appointment tothe European Central Bank's executive board on grounds that heis a man and insufficient efforts have been made to appoint awoman.

The leaders of six of the largest political groupings in theEuropean Parliament have agreed to reject Mersch, 63, on groundsof systemic gender bias at the ECB, a statement from one of theleaders said on Thursday.

A hearing into his candidacy will still go ahead on Oct. 22,but Sylvie Goulard, a French liberal parliamentarian said thatunless EU member states decided to withdraw Mersch's candidancy,the parliament had no option but to reject him.

"The hearing should take place on October 22nd but anegative recommendation would be adopted, based on the failureby the Council to respect the demands laid down," she said in anemailed statement.

"No judgement would be made on the competences of thecandidate," she added.

In September, the lawmakers postponed Mersch's appointmentindefinitely by putting off his cross-examination in protest atwhat they called systemic bias against women. All of the mostsenior positions in the central bank are filled by men.

EU leaders can still appoint Mersch over and above theEuropean Parliament's objections, but the parliament's movemakes it politically more difficult for that to happen.

The ECB said that Mersch's candidacy was safe.

"In our case, especially in times of crisis, the ExecutiveBoard (of the ECB) should be completed and this nominationshould go through," Mario Draghi the head of the ECB said onTuesday.

Mersch's spokesperson declined to comment.

In the 14 years since the ECB was founded as guardian of theeuro single currency, two women have sat on the six-memberexecutive board, Finland's Sirkka Hämäläinen and Austria'sGertrude Tumpel-Gugerell.

Euro zone finance ministers nominated Mersch, the governorof the central bank of Luxembourg, to the executive board inJuly 2012, replacing Spain's José Manuel González Páramo, whoseterm expired at the end of May.

The Executive Board will not have another position openuntil June 2018.

(Reporting By Claire Davenport; additional reporting SakariSuoninen and Eva Kuehnen; editing by Luke Baker)

((Claire.Davenport@thomsonreuters.com))

Keywords: ECB MERSCH/PARLIAMENT