Monday 16 July 2018

Boost to Lane's ECB chances amid resistance to politician joining board

Central Bank Governor Philip Lane
Central Bank Governor Philip Lane

Dearbhail McDonald, Group Business Editor

Ireland has received an 11th-hour boost to its campaign to secure its first ever seat on the executive board of the European Central Bank.

The Irish Government has nominated Central Bank Governor Philip Lane for the role of vice-president of the Frankfurt based bank to replace current ECB vice-president Vitor Constancio, who steps down in May after serving an eight-year term.

The main contender is Spain's Economy Minister Luis de Guindos who has also been formally nominated.

However the Irish Independent has learned that an in-camera meeting of the Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON) committee will be held next week amid concerns by some MEPs about the prospect of electing Mr de Guindos, a serving politician, to the politically sensitive role. Both Mr Lane and Mr de Guindos will be invited to attend the ECON hearing, the Irish Independent understands.

Spain, the currency bloc's fourth-largest economy, is fighting hard to regain the board seat it lost six years ago. Ireland's decision to nominate Mr Lane puts the countries in direct competition.

Yesterday was the deadline day for nominations. The final decision will be made at a vote of euro-area finance ministers on February 19. The process will also include a confirmation hearing in the European Parliament, some of whose members do not want to break from the precedent of not electing serving politicians.

Ireland has never had a nominee sit on the ECB executive board. Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said yesterday he'll campaign to get Lane elected.

"When we were making the decision to support Philip I always acknowledged and expected that there would be other candidates, and was very much aware that Spain also had ambitions to be representing the ECB and that my good colleague Luis would likely be that candidate.

"What I will be doing is focusing exclusively on the qualities of Governor Lane, pointing to his track record and what he has achieved within the European Central Bank.

"In any competition there are always other countries or candidates that would be putting their best foot forward too. We will be doing the same. Philip is an excellent candidate."

Vice presidency of the ECB is a full-time role, and if Lane is appointed it will create a vacancy at the Central Bank here.

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