IMF’s Lagarde touted for European Central Bank president

Christine Lagarde could likely become the next European Central Bank president. (AFP pic)

BRUSSELS: European Union (EU) leaders are considering making International Monetary Fund (IMF) managing director Christine Lagarde the next president of the European Central Bank, according to officials briefed on discussions at a summit in Brussels on Tuesday.

Lagarde is on the latest slate of candidates for the EU’s top jobs which leaders, lawmakers and parties have been wrangling over since Sunday.

Successive plans have been proposed, debated and then shot down during negotiations that are also seeking a head of the European Commission, a foreign policy chief, a president for the EU Parliament and a chair of the bloc’s summits.

The French IMF director’s name also came up in earlier combinations that fell through due to disagreements over who would lead the commission.

The presidency of the EU’s executive arm is the key sticking point because it requires the approval of an unruly and fragmented European Parliament.

German defence minister Ursula von der Leyen is emerging as the latest front funner to take that post after eastern member states and the EPP, Europe’s centre-right political party, objected to a package floated over the weekend that would have seen Dutch socialist Frans Timmermans lead the commission.

Under the EU’s culture of horse trading, the five key posts are all inter-related so Lagarde’s candidacy for the central bank job depends on leaders and lawmakers agreeing on the rest of the slate.

Lagarde, 63, would become the first ECB president who’s not a professional economist and the second French national to lead the Frankfurt-based institution.

Before joining the IMF, she was finance minister of France.