EU's Barroso wants 'strong' European to head IMF

19th May 2011, Comments 0 comments

The European Commission called on Thursday for a "strong" European candidate to succeed Dominique Strauss-Kahn at the IMF, staking Europe's claim in an expected battle with emerging countries.

"The commission has taken note of the resignation of Mr. Strauss-Kahn as managing director of the IMF," said Pia Ahrenkilde-Hansen, spokeswoman for European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso .

"The IMF needs strong leadership and president Barroso's position is clear," she said.

"While nationality is not a criteria in relation to the succession of Mr Strauss-Kahn, it is only natural that the member states of the European Union, as the biggest contributor to the fund, agree on a strong and competent candidate who can rally support from the IMF membership," the spokeswoman said.

"I'm sure now consultations will intensify about this succession and indeed about putting forward a strong European candidate to take up the position," she added.

Strauss-Kahn, a socialist politician who had been considered a contender for next year's French presidential election, resigned on Thursday saying he wanted to focus entirely on clearing his name of sexual assault charges in New York.

Under a long-standing arrangement between Europe and the United States, a European has always held the top IMF job while an American leads its sister institution, the World Bank.

But emerging powers China and Brazil are calling for an end to the arrangement to give an opportunity to a candidate from a developing nation.

"In principle, we believe that newly emerging markets and developing countries should be represented in the top leadership," Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said on Thursday.

French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde, who has emerged as a possible replacement to Strauss-Kahn, said Europe should unite behind a single candidate.

"Any candidacy, whoever's it may be, should come from the Europeans, who unite, all together," she said on the sidelines of a news conference in Paris, without directly addressing the question of her own possible candidacy.

© 2011 AFP

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