Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 12 December 2019

EU leaders nominate Christine Lagarde as ECB head

The European Central Bank and European Commission could have women leaders for the first time

International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde said she would step down from the global lender after being nominated to lead the European Central Bank. "I am honored to have been nominated for the @ECB Presidency," she said on Twitter. AFP
International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde said she would step down from the global lender after being nominated to lead the European Central Bank. "I am honored to have been nominated for the @ECB Presidency," she said on Twitter. AFP

Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, was nominated as the new head of the European Central Bank on Tuesday. Leaders of the European Union also looked to fill other top posts during the EU summit this week.

For the duration of the EU nomination period, Ms Lagarde will stand down temporarily from the post she has held at the lender based out of Washington since 2011.

“I am honoured to have been nominated for the presidency of the European Central Bank,” Ms Lagarde said. “In light of this, and in consultation with the Ethics Committee of the IMF executive board, I have decided to temporarily relinquish my responsibilities as managing director of the IMF during the nomination period.”

First deputy managing director David Lipton will serve as acting managing director in the interim, the IMF executive board said.

“We accept Ms Lagarde’s decision to relinquish her IMF responsibilities temporarily during the nomination period. We have full confidence in [Mr Lipton],” the IMF added.

Ms Lagarde, who was France's first woman finance minister and a strong advocate of female empowerment, is a lawyer by education and has held several key posts within the French government during her political career.

The biggest task for Ms Lagarde, who previously denied any interest in an EU job, will be to revive the ailing eurozone economy.

The EU also nominated German Finance Minister Ursula Von der Leyen as president of the European Commission to replace Jean-Claude Juncker. If approved, she would run the powerful commission that supervises budgets for EU states, acts as the bloc's competition watchdog and conducts trade negotiations with outside countries.

The two women’s roles must be confirmed by a vote in the European Parliament.

Meanwhile, the EU made two appointments: Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel was elected president of the European Council to replace Donald Tusk and Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Fontelles will be high representative for foreign affairs and security policy.

Mr Tusk called the appointments "a perfect gender balance".

"Christine Lagarde will be a perfect president of the European Central Bank," Mr Tusk said. "I am absolutely sure that she will be a very independent president."

Leaders hope the decision to nominate the two women to the top of EU decision-making for the first time will send a positive message and repair any damage wrought by the tense summit, diplomats said, according to Reuters.

The appointments were made following marathon talks at the EU Summit during which some divisions in the bloc also came up.

Some leaders nodded off and police escorts were seen slumped on chairs as groups of leaders debated an accord.

"Done!" wrote Luxembourg's Prime Minister Xavier Bettel, who broke the news on Twitter that leaders had agreed on the EU's next leadership.

Updated: July 3, 2019 01:09 PM

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