New German candidate for ECB possible: Berlin

14th February 2011, Comments 0 comments

The German government said on Monday that a new German candidate to be the next head of the European Central Bank was possible after front-runner Axel Weber dramatically withdrew last week.

Asked if Berlin ruled out presenting a new candidate to succeed Frenchman Jean-Claude Trichet when he steps down in October, Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert said: "No."

Weber resigned on Friday as head of the Bundesbank, effective April 30, thereby ruling himself out of the race to replace Trichet as the first German to head the ECB, the world's second-most powerful central bank.

Weber had been in pole position to get the job, with Berlin having refrained from pushing Germans for other top European jobs such as the EU president and EU foreign policy chief, posts held by a Belgian and a Briton respectively.

Seibert said that Berlin had been due to back officially Weber's candidacy at the end of March.

Weber was known for his hard-line stance on ECB policy, especially his opposition to ECB purchases of eurozone government bonds, a measure the ECB adopted last year to help struggling banks get through the financial crisis.

His decision appeared to leave the way clear for the man formerly seen as his main rival, Italy's Mario Draghi, with Luxembourg's Yves Mersch and Finland's Erkki Liikanen seen as possible other candidates.

"For the government what is important is that Mr Trichet's successor shares our fundamental German convictions on a stable currency, what one does for that, and on tackling inflation," Seibert said.

"The passport is not the main thing."

© 2011 AFP

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