Italy Doesn’t See Draghi as Commission Nominee: Officials
Mario Draghi, president of the European Central Bank (ECB), speaks during the central, eastern and south-eastern European economies (CESEE) conference at the ECB headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany. (Photographer: Andreas Arnold/Bloomberg)

Italy Doesn’t See Draghi as Commission Nominee: Officials

(Bloomberg) --

Italy isn’t considering proposing Mario Draghi for the presidency of the European Commission, according to two senior officials commenting on an earlier newspaper report.

Daily La Stampa reported Friday that the Italian economist, who ends his term as European Central Bank president on Oct. 31, is being considered by the populist government as a possible candidate to head the European Commission.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte sidestepped a question on the issue at the G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan, after Stampa reported that he had been warming to the idea and that one key issue was whether Berlin would be fully supportive of Draghi. An ECB spokesman declined to comment.

Putting Draghi’s name forward might give Italy an unexpected prize in a European game of musical chairs, where the euro area’s third-largest economy was widely expected to come out empty-handed.

Italy Doesn’t See Draghi as Commission Nominee: Officials

The veteran central banker is credited with putting an end to the sovereign crisis threatening the survival of the euro with his “Whatever It Takes” speech in 2012. His candidacy might break an impasse among EU countries that have so far been unable to converge on names for the union’s top jobs.

There would be some irony to Conte putting Draghi’s name forward to succeed Jean-Claude Juncker. His populist coalition has often attacked Draghi and ECB policies, and some of its members have openly flirted with the idea of Italy leaving the euro.

Even so, the government’s dominant force, League leader Matteo Salvini, has signaled he’s gotten over his past disagreements with Draghi and appeared to lend his support to the candidacy.

“I would be proud to have an Italian in the EU Commission presidency,” Salvini said Friday, according to news agency Ansa.

The name most governments appear to agree on for the commission’s top post is Bulgaria’s Kristalina Georgieva, another Italian official said, also asking not to be named discussing privileged information. Georgieva currently serves as chief executive officer of the World Bank.

Even if he doesn’t move to Brussels, Draghi can count on another job offer of sorts.

U.S. President Donald Trump said Draghi should head the Federal Reserve, contrasting ECB stimulus policies with the rate increases enacted by Chairman Jerome Powell -- or “our Fed person,” as Trump referred to him.

Italy Doesn’t See Draghi as Commission Nominee: Officials

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