Sarkozy backs Italian Mario Draghi's bid for ECB top post
French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Tuesday offered his backing for Italian central bank governor Mario Draghi's bid to replace France's Jean-Claude Trichet as head of the ECB this year.
"We support the candidature of Mario Draghi," Sarkozy said at a joint news conference with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in Rome.
"France is happy to support an Italian to lead the ECB and I know Mario Draghi well... We support him because he is a person of quality," he added.
France's support was "a very good signal to all those Italians who might have doubts about their place and their role in Europe," he said.
Trichet's mandate runs out in October 2011.
French backing drastically increases Draghi's chances after Germany's candidate Axel Weber, head of the Bundesbank, dropped out earlier this year.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has so far kept quiet on the matter.
The announcement of Trichet's successor should take place at the next European summit in June.
A Jesuit-educated economics professor and former investment banker at Goldman Sachs, Draghi was named governor of the Bank of Italy in 2005.
He has earned greater international visibility by heading up the Financial Stability Board, a body overseeing reforms of the global financial system.
© 2011 AFP