independent

Thursday 17 April 2014

Ireland 'would support Lagarde as IMF head'

France's Finance and Economy Minister Christine Lagarde is followed by journalists after attending a G20 conference in Paris, France, yesterday

Ireland would have no problem with French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde taking over the stewardship of the IMF, despite her government's stance on Irish corporate tax, European Affairs Minister Lucinda Creighton has said.

Stopping short of offering Ms Lagarde a ringing endorsement, Ms Creighton said that the Government would happily follow the lead of its European partners on the appointment.

Ms Lagarde has been touted as a possible successor to Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who stepped down as managing director of the Washington-based fund last week to battle sexual assault charges, which he denies.

Although her nomination is not yet official, several European countries -- including the UK, Italy, the Netherlands and Germany -- have already thrown their support behind Ms Lagarde, who is a former head of international law firm Baker and McKenzie.

Australia, South Africa, Mexico and China, however, want an end to the tacit agreement that ensures Europe and the US take the top seats at the Fund and the World Bank.

Nominations for the IMF job close on June 10.

"We would certainly be anxious to have a European head up the IMF," Ms Creighton told reporters in Brussels yesterday. " Christine Lagarde is somebody we have a good relationship with," she said, adding that the French minister had been "quite supportive and sensitive" to Ireland in the wake of last November's bailout deal.

"We wouldn't have any concerns about her," she added. "If agreement was reached among the member states, then we would certainly be happy to offer our support."

Ireland's relationship with France has grown strained since its president, Nicolas Sarkozy, linked a discount on the interest the Government pays to draw down EU bailout loans to a hike in the 12.5pc corporate tax rate.

Greece has already been granted a reduced interest rate, and Portugal will pay slightly less than Ireland to access its rescue loan.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan and Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore will travel to Paris this week in a further bid to cement relations.

Irish Independent

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