Business Irish

Tuesday 16 July 2019

Lane's move to ECB creates vacancy to head Central Bank

On the move: Philip Lane, Governor of the Central Bank, will be swapping Dublin for Brussels
On the move: Philip Lane, Governor of the Central Bank, will be swapping Dublin for Brussels
Donal O'Donovan

Donal O'Donovan

Central Bank Governor Philip Lane is now in a one-horse race to become chief economist at the European Central Bank (ECB), after no other candidate secured a nomination.

The confirmation process is now a formality and creates a vacancy at home for a Governor of the Central Bank of Ireland - the third since the financial crisis.

Deputy Governor Sharon Donnery is seen by many as favourite to replace Professor Lane. She would be the first woman in the role, but her appointment would break the post-crisis practice of appointing outsiders. Professor Lane and his predecessor, Patrick Honohan, were academic economists before taking over at the Central Bank. The Secretary General of the Department of Public Expenditure Robert Watt was heavily tipped to replace Mr Honohan, when Professor Lane won the job in 2015, and could be a candidate again.

Meanwhile, Professor Lane was the only candidate after a deadline for nominations to the ECB board passed yesterday, according to Eurogroup president Mario Centeno. "I look forward to our discussion at the next Eurogroup on 11 February, which will pave the way for a formal recommendation," Mr Centeno said in a statement.

Ireland has been the only founding member of the euro never to have a seat on the ECB executive board. EU finance ministers are expected to formally nominate Professor Lane on February 12, and governments will make the final appointment at an EU leaders summit in Brussels on March 21. The process includes non-binding consultations with the European Parliament and ECB. Professor Lane had been nominated well in advance by Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe, after missing out on becoming ECB vice-president last year. Both jobs are part of complex horse-trading for EU posts now under way including to replace President Mario Draghi when his term ends this year - which Germany has its sights on.

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