No accord on ECB president without Germany: Berlin

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Germany insisted on Wednesday that there could be no agreement on the future head of the European Central Bank without German support, after France and Italy appeared to anoint a successor to Jean-Claude Trichet.

At a summit in Rome on Tuesday, the leaders of France and Italy said they would be supporting Mario Draghi, the current head of Italy's central bank, to replace Trichet when the Frenchman steps down in October.

But Steffen Seibert, a spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel, told reporters at a regular briefing that Germany's voice would be taken into account before a final decision is taken, expected at an EU summit in June.

"Yesterday, two important eurozone countries threw their weight behind Draghi as a candidate. Nevertheless, the job of ECB president will not be filled without German approval," Seibert said.

And he laid out the criteria the successful candidate would have to demonstrate to Berlin before clinching the job.

The right person would have "the necessary international experience" for the job, would "share our conviction about a stable currency" and would push for debt-laden eurozone countries to implement fundamental economic reforms.

However, he declined to say whether Draghi possessed these characteristics, in Germany's view.

"We know how important the euro is for us in Germany. It is perhaps more important for Germany and the German economy than for any other country. Therefore, we also know how important the role of ECB president is," he said.

The final decision would be taken "in close consultation" with Paris, Seibert said.

Draghi, a former top executive at US investment bank Goldman Sachs, is seen as almost certain to be appointed to the job after winning backing from Rome and Paris.

Analysts say there is no other realistic alternative to lead the world's second most powerful central bank after the Federal Reserve in Washington.

Germany's own candidate for the position, Axel Weber, who runs the powerful Bundesbank, pulled out of the race unexpectedly, leaving Berlin blindsided and without a credible second choice.

© 2011 AFP

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