The Government is to nominate Central Bank governor Philip Lane to become Ireland’s first ever vice-president of the European Central Bank.
The Cabinet yesterday approved a proposal tabled by Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe that Mr Lane be the Government’s nominee to the ECB’s governing council, where there will be at least one vacancy this year with a number of other vacancies due to follow next year.
Mr Donohoe said Mr Lane is “eminently qualified” for the role.
If his candidacy is successful, it would see him vacate his current position at the head of the Central Bank.
Mr Lane is a highly regarded economist and has been the subject of an intense lobbying campaign behind the scenes and his chances of making the board are good, given there is a view that Ireland is due to land a position.
He will contest the job with the man seen as front-runner — Spanish economic minister Luis de Guindos.
Announcing his decision to nominate Mr Lane, Mr Donohoe paid tribute to his leadership of the Central Bank in recent years.
“The Government agreed to my recommendation today that we nominate Central Bank governor Philip Lane to the post,” he said. “Philip has led the Central Bank with distinction over a number of years.
“He is an eminently qualified candidate for the role, and deserves the support of other member states for the role and the Government will be putting his name forward for the role later this week.
"Prof Lane’s outstanding economic, financial and policy-making record ideally position him to take a seat at the executive board of the European Central Bank.”
At the Eurogroup meeting of Eurozone finance ministers on January 22, the Eurogroup president initiated the procedure with a call for candidacies for the ECB position.
The term of the incumbent, Vítor Constâncio, ends on May 31, 2018. Other board member appointments do not arise until 2019.
With regard to the position of ECB vice-president, the Eurogroup will agree on a candidate on February 19 and Ecofin will adopt a formal recommendation to the European Council on February 20.
The European Parliament and European Central Bank will then deliver opinions on the recommendation with the appointment scheduled to be agreed at the European Council on March 22. The new vice president will take up their post on June 1.
Mr Lane was appointed as governor of the Central Bank of Ireland in November 2015. This means he is already a member of the ECB governing council as a national governor.
The vice-president role is an executive position which would see Mr Lane move to Frankfurt and thus create a vacancy in his current job. The vice-presidency is one of a number of ECB executive board positions to fall vacant over the next 18 months.
There had been uncertainty about whether Mr Donohoe would decide to nominate an Irish candidate for this position.
A Central Bank spokesperson said it “noted” the minister’s announcement: “As the Governor previously said, this is a matter for the Eurogroup to decide.”
The Central Bank said it is not in a position to speculate further as it is a political decision.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved