Eurogroup leader urges rapid decision on ECB post

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The head of eurozone finance ministers Jean-Claude Juncker urged EU political leaders on Thursday to lose no time in choosing the next head of the European Central Bank, and voiced support for Mario Draghi of Italy.

Juncker, who heads the Eurogroup, was quoted by Dow Jones Newswires as telling reporters in Mainz, western Germany, that a rapid decision on the question of who will take over as the ECB "would show a great deal of decision-making authority... in those difficult times."

The central bank is spearheading efforts to resolve the eurozone debt crisis and observers would like to see a smooth transfer when president Jean-Claude Trichet of France steps down in October.

Draghi received crucial support this week from German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

This, together with backing from French President Nicolas Sarkozy, appeared to lock in the chances that European Union leaders will appoint Draghi in June as the next president of the ECB.

Eurozone finance ministers are expected formally to nominate Draghi next week, now that Italy has officially put his name forward.

Juncker also appeared to back the Italian central bank governor, saying: "He is a friend and I respect his professionalism."

Draghi is highly regarded in the global financial sector and has earned kudos as head of the Financial Stability Board, which is charged with identifying possible problems and fostering effective regulations.

© 2011 AFP

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