Lane Set to Succeed ECB Chief Economist in Uncontested Race

(Bloomberg) -- Philip Lane is poised to become the next European Central Bank chief economist after no contenders emerged to challenge the Irishman’s claim on one of the key monetary-policy jobs available in the euro area this year.

The Irish central-bank governor was the only declared candidate after a deadline to field bids passed on Wednesday, according to Eurogroup president Mario Centeno. Lane’s appointment would give the country its first seat on the ECB’s Executive Board and put an academic economist with a doctorate from Harvard in charge of crafting monetary-policy recommendations.

“I look forward to our discussion at the next Eurogroup on 11 February, which will pave the way for a formal recommendation” Centeno, who heads the meetings of euro-area finance ministers, said in a statement.

EU finance ministers are expected to formally nominate Lane, 49, on Feb. 12, and governments will make the final appointment when EU leaders gather in Brussels for a Summit on March 21, after consultations with the European Parliament and the Governing Council of the ECB. He will follow Belgium’s Peter Praet, whose eight-year term on the Executive Board in Frankfurt ends on May 31.

For the recommendation to leaders to be confirmed, at least 14 of the currency bloc’s 19 member-states representing at least 65 percent of euro-area population need to support Lane’s bid in next month’s meeting of finance ministers.

Succession Contest

Lane’s appointment sets the stage for a bigger succession contest. The selection of a new ECB president will be part of a bigger reshuffle of top jobs in the European Union this year, with the race expected to pit the region’s two biggest economies -- Germany and France.

Germany has never held the ECB presidency and Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann is seen among the front-runners for the job. Other potential contenders include Banque de France Governor Francois Villeroy de Galhau and Finland’s Erkki Liikanen and Olli Rehn. ECB Executive Board member Benoit Coeure is also seen in the running, although it’s unclear whether his current position would exclude him as a candidate.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.