Christine Lagarde facing MEP grilling on ECB top job

Written by Martin Banks on 3 September 2019 in News
News

Christine Lagarde will come under the spotlight in Parliament this week when MEPs question her on her candidacy for the top job at the European Central Bank (ECB).

Christine Lagarde  | Photo credit: Flickr


Members of Parliament’s economic and monetary committee will quiz Christine Lagarde, the candidate for President of the European Central Bank put forward by Member States, in a public hearing on Wednesday.

On the same day, the committee will also vote on its position on the appointment. The ECB President is appointed for eight years.

A Parliament spokesman told a press conference on Monday that the hearing will be the highlight of the week for the assembly, which has now returned after the summer break.


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He said that following the hearing later this week there will then be a vote in plenary in Strasbourg in September on her appointment.

A simple majority vote will be needed for her to take up the role.

Lagarde stepped down as managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) earlier this year. The former French cabinet minister had been IMF chief since 2011.

If the European Council and Parliament approve her ECB nomination, she will become the Central Bank's first ever female leader, responsible for the euro and the monetary policy of the eurozone.

If the European Council and Parliament approve her ECB nomination, she will become the Central Bank's first ever female leader, responsible for the euro and the monetary policy of the eurozone

Lagarde, 63, began her career as a lawyer before moving into politics.

She served in various ministerial posts under former French President Nicolas Sarkozy before being elected as the first female boss of the IMF - replacing Dominique Strauss Khan.

Consistently ranked among the top 10 most powerful women globally, Lagarde has helped to rebuild the IMF's credibility following Greece's 2010 bailout.

She also presided over the IMF's biggest bailout, a $57bn deal for Argentina last year that many credited with arresting emerging market turbulence.

Born in Paris, she became France's trade minister in 2005 and, two years later was appointed finance minister, the first woman to hold this post not just in France but in any of the G8 major industrial countries.

In 2011, she became head of the IMF.

Elsewhere, the expected appointment of Adam Farkas as CEO of the Association of Major European Banks (AFME) has been condemned by German MEP Sven Giegold as an example of the EU’s so-called “revolving doors”.

Consistently ranked among the top 10 most powerful women globally, Lagarde has helped to rebuild the IMF's credibility following Greece's 2010 bailout

Farkas is currently executive director of the European Banking Authority.

Giegold, financial and economic policy spokesperson of the Greens/EFA group, said, "Farkas’ walk through the revolving door is massively damaging the reputation of Europe’s banking supervision.”

“Without a cooling off period, top insider information now flows from banking supervision to the banking lobby. Farkas is doing the European banking union a disservice. Much trust was destroyed during the financial crisis, but now Farkas is damaging trust in a central authority for crisis prevention.”

“We need binding cooling off periods for all sensitive positions in the EU agencies. A waiting period of 24 months would make sense. It is an invitation to avoid needed decisions that each agency has its own rules. The Farkas case shows how much we need an independent EU ethics authority in order to avoid conflicts of interest.”

He added, “The Council of National Banking Supervisors should decide on a waiting period of at least 24 months in the case of Farkas. Farkas must immediately lose access to sensitive information and documents. The Farkas case must be a wake-up call for European policy.”

About the author

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at The Parliament Magazine

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