The next head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) should be selected on merit regardless of their nationality, French finance minister Christine Lagarde has said.
Ms Lagarde is being seen as the overwhelming favourite in the race to succeed Dominique Strauss-Kahn who quit to fight charges of attempted rape in New York.
The move has however angered some in the developing world who want to break with tradition and see a non-European installed in the post – reflecting the growing importance of the emerging economies.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, she said: “Firstly I don’t think it should be a European or an emerging market candidate, it should be a good candidate. My sense is that it should be an open, transparent and merit-based process.
She added: “I honestly think that the nationality, the origin, is something that doesn’t really matter at the end of the day. What matters is the skills, the expertise, the experience, the willingness, the enthusiasm, the leadership, the background. All of that counts.
“Obviously the culture, the civilisation you come from, form part of your identity, but in terms of serving the institution, serving its entire membership, the country of origin should not be a criteria.”
She said it might be a benefit to know the “intricacies of the European construction” and “appreciate the political circumstances and background” of each of the leaders.
Mr Osborne earlier praised her “international leadership as chair of the G20 finance ministers” adding it would be “a very good thing” to see the first female managing director of the IMF in its 60 year history.