Sup­port builds for Philip Lane’s ECB ri­val

Irish Independent - Business Week - - BUSINESSWEEK - Nikos Chrysoloras and Colm Kelpie

SUP­PORT for Cen­tral Bank Gover­nor Philip Lane’s bid for the Euro­pean Cen­tral Bank’s se­cond high­est post is build­ing, the Depart­ment of Fi­nance has said.

This is de­spite the fact that Por­tu­gal, Malta, Slo­vakia and Latvia al­ready have said they in­tend to sup­port Span­ish Econ­omy Min­is­ter Luis de Guin­dos over Mr Lane to be the next vice-pres­i­dent of the ECB.

Of­fi­cials from Aus­tria, Cyprus and Fin­land told Bloomberg they are lean­ing to­ward sup­port­ing Mr Guin­dos.

“Min­is­ter [Paschal] Dono­hoe is fully sup­port­ive of Gover­nor Lane’s nom­i­na­tion to the VP po­si­tion in the ECB and is con­fi­dent that there is solid sup­port for Ire­land’s can­di­date, which is build­ing.

“We will con­tinue to out­line Philip’s qual­i­ties and his exemplary track record to all mem­ber states who will have a vote, across the com­ing days.”

And yet none of the cur­rency bloc’s re­main­ing gov­ern­ments sig­nalled an in­ten­tion to vote for Mr Lane, de­clin­ing to com­ment when asked by Bloomberg.

A Ger­man gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial said that Ire­land has hardly at all for its can­di­date and that Dublin’s in­ten­tion may be to push in­stead for the ECB chief econ­o­mist job when Pe­ter Praet’s term ex­pires next year.

But a Depart­ment spokesman said Mr Dono­hoe and Ir­ish diplo­mats have been “ac­tively lob­by­ing” since the nom­i­na­tion of Mr Lane to the VP po­si­tion

Coun­tries can still change their minds be­fore the Euro­zone fi­nance min­is­ters de­cide on the mat­ter at a meet­ing on Mon­day in Brus­sels.

Heavy­weights in­clud­ing Italy are re­fus­ing to show their cards, and in­for­mal hear­ings for the can­di­dates at the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment on Wed­nes­day could yet shift the mood.

French Fi­nance Min­is­ter Bruno Le Maire “has al­ways made clear that Guin­dos has ex­cel­lent qual­i­ties”, a French gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial said.

While the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment quizzed Mr Guin­dos and Mr Lane yes­ter­day in Brus­sels, the assem­bly has no power to block the ap­point­ment.

The fi­nal de­ci­sion is taken by an en­hanced ma­jor­ity of the Euro­zone’s 19 na­tional gov­ern­ments.

Fin­land will of­fi­cially de­cide which can­di­date it will sup­port on Fri­day, Fi­nance Min­is­ter Pet­teri Orpo said in a mes­sage relob­bied layed by his spokesman, adding that Mr Guin­dos’s ex­pe­ri­ence makes him a strong can­di­date.

Spain has grounds for in­creas­ing its rep­re­sen­ta­tion in Euro­pean in­sti­tu­tions, he added.

Mr Guin­dos has a his­tory of push­ing through the eco­nomic re­struc­tur­ing that the ECB says is vi­tal to the cur­rency bloc’s long-term health.

In his me­moir, he de­scribed sleep­less nights and bust-ups with the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion in 2012 as he ne­go­ti­ated Spain’s €41bn bailout and re­form pack­age.

Un­like Mr Lane, he lacks an eco­nom­ics PhD. (Bloomberg)

Cen­tral Bank Gover­nor Philip Lane­may have eye on al­ter­na­tive role

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