Italy says Draghi for ECB would be an 'honour'
Amid speculation over who will head the European Central Bank, Italy's Foreign Minister said it was an "honour" that Bank of Italy chief Mario Draghi is a possible for the post, Ansa agency said Thursday.
"Italy is honoured that an Italian should be considered for a position this important," Franco Frattini said, adding however that the appointment was not going to be made in the near future and there was still work to be done.
His comments followed unease on the markets Wednesday as reports said German central bank president Axel Weber had bowed out of the race to succeed Frenchman Jean-Claude Trichet.
Speaking in Vienna Thursday, Weber said: "I have spoken with the German Chancellor (Angela Merkel) (and) ... I promised her that I would not make any comment on the matter until we've both met and talked again.
"We will take all the necessary decisions in close consultation. There is nothing more to say on the matter," he added.
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi told Berlin in January that should Draghi be nominated it would be a "great honour" for Italy.
The Bank of Italy declined to comment on the matter.
Rome has been pushing for Draghi's candidacy for over a year, although official negotiations have yet to begin and contenders for Trichet's post will not be announced for a few months.
The Financial Times, Britain's influential economic daily, said Thursday that "if Mr Weber bows out, the Bank of Italy's Mario Draghi appears the most likely next ECB president."
But economic experts fear Draghi may be hindered by having previously worked at US investment banking giant Goldman Sachs and may therefor have had a role in financial deals that helped to hide Greece's debt problems.
Northern members of the eurozone may also be reluctant to elect a southern candidate. Customarily, the ECB maintains a balance between northern and southern Europe for the top two posts and the vice-president post is currently held by Portuguese Vitor Constancio.
Other candidates mooted in recent weeks are the German Klaus Regling, who chairs the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF); head of Luxembourg's Central Bank Yve Mersch and Erkki Liikanen of the Bank of Finland.
© 2011 AFP