July 20, 2017 / 2:48 PM / 4 months ago

ECB's Draghi wishes conflicts with staff wouldn't appear in press

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - The president of the European Central Bank said on Thursday he wished conflicts with ECB staff representatives over hiring would not appear in the press, because that undermines efforts to resolve them.

European Central Bank (ECB) President Mario Draghi is seen after a news conference at the ECB headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany July 20, 2017. REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski

Reuters was the first to report on Wednesday that the appointment of Draghi’s top policy adviser was being challenged in court. That put ECB hiring practices under fresh scrutiny after five appointments were annulled over the past year.

The ECB’s staff committee has repeatedly raised the issue of a perception of favoritism at the euro zone institution, tasked with watching over banks and controlling inflation in the bloc.

Draghi said he and the rest of the ECB’s leadership wished to work with staff representatives and trade union IPSO but criticized the publicity given to the cases.

“I sincerely wish to work ... with the staff committee and IPSO,” Draghi said during an ECB press conference. “The problem is that it’s very difficult to ... trust someone who discusses things on the press and newswires each and every time.”

He stood by his “world-class” staff and emphasized the ECB had always been ready to correct any mistake it had made.

Staff representative Carlos Bowles is seeking the removal of Draghi’s new policy adviser, German economist Roland Straub, on the grounds that job had not been advertised.

Straub, who was appointed in February, plays a key role in formulating policy proposals and also coordinates the aides to the ECB’s five other directors.

Straub’s qualifications are not questioned in the appeal, which focuses on the mode of employment for the dual role of adviser to Draghi and coordinator of the other aides.

Staff representatives complained last year to the European Parliament, which oversees the ECB, that dissent was discouraged at the bank, potentially hobbling its ability to spot the next financial crisis.

The ECB is also under scrutiny from Europe’s ethics watchdog over the participation of Draghi and other top officials in a closed-door forum with bankers and fund managers.

An ECB staff survey conducted in 2015 showed 65 percent of respondents chose “knowing the ‘right people’ ” as a way of getting ahead at the ECB, a higher proportion than chose any other factor.

Reporting By Francesco Canepa, editing by Larry King

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