Germany denies 'defeat' over ECB job

4th January 2012, Comments 0 comments

Germany said on Wednesday the surprise naming of a Belgian economist to replace the German incumbent of a highly coveted European Central Bank position was "in no way a defeat".

Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman Georg Streiter told a regular news conference that Germany had "no hereditary claim" to certain posts within the Frankfurt-based central bank.

The ECB unexpectedly announced Tuesday that executive board member Peter Praet would take over as chief economist from Germany's Juergen Stark, who stepped down early at the end of 2011.

Another German, Joerg Asmussen, and fellow incoming board member Benoit Coeure of France had been seen as the top rival candidates to take over the key economics portfolio.

Ever since the ECB was set up, the position of chief economist has been held by a German -- first Otmar Issing and then Stark.

The Financial Times Deutschland in its Wednesday editorial said the decision by ECB chief Mario Draghi was a "slap in the face for Merkel" but consoled itself that Praet did at least have a German mother.

Asmussen will however be responsible for international and European relations, meaning he will attend also meetings abroad, a role Streiter described as "an extraordinarily important function".

© 2012 AFP

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