Sunday 24 March 2019

Germany's Weidman readies fresh ECB tilt

Bundesbank chief Jens WeidmannSkywalker character at Skellig Michael. Photo: Bloomberg
Bundesbank chief Jens WeidmannSkywalker character at Skellig Michael. Photo: Bloomberg
Donal O'Donovan

Donal O'Donovan

Senior members of the German government are again eyeing a bid to have Bundesbank chief Jens Weidmann succeed Mario Draghi as head of the European Central Bank (ECB), German's 'Die Zeit' reported on Wednesday, without naming sources.

It reflects doubts in Berlin that German conservative Manfred Weber will succeed in his bid to become European Commission president.

Decisions on top EU jobs - including the presidencies of the ECB, European Commission and European Council - are expected after European parliamentary elections in May.

No German has held the ECB's top job, in part due to fears elsewhere of handing it to the country already seen to have very significant influence because of its size.

However, if Germany's government thinks it will lose out on the top Brussels jobs in the wider horse-trading now under way, it may seek support for the top job in Frankfurt.

Irish Central Bank governor Philip Lane is set to become the ECB's chief economist and a member of the bank's full-time executive board in May, after he emerged unopposed from the nomination process. Reports last year had indicated German Chancellor Angela Merkel's government was supportive of Ireland's pitch to get Professor Lane onto the ECB executive. If so, Germany will expect backing for its own strategy as EU posts become vacant.

Mr Weidmann is seen by some in the EU as a policy hardliner, opposed to loose money policies that are popular in southern Europe in particular.

Chancellor Merkel's cabinet agreed yesterday to extend his term as head of the Bundesbank by eight years from May as he waits to see if he is picked for the top ECB job.

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