Wednesday

16th Jan 2019

Spain's De Guindos to be ECB vice-president

  • De Guindos missed out on the presidency of the Eurogroup in 2015, but will now become vice-president of the European Central Bank (Photo: Council of the EU)

Spanish finance minister Luis de Guindos will become vice president of the European Central Bank (ECB) later this year, after his sole rival stepped down on Monday (19 February).

De Guindos' candidacy was secure even before a Eurogroup meeting of eurozone finance ministers in Brussels, after the group's president Mario Centeno announced that Philip Lane, the governor of the Central Bank of Ireland, had withdrawn.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

"It's a personal challenge. I face it with humility, with enthusiasm to learn and defend the independence of the ECB," De Guindos said after the meeting.

De Guindos added that he "will defend the independence of the ECB with all my effort".

 He said that he was neither a 'hawk' nor a 'dove' but "pragmatic" in monetary policies.

He added that he will leave the Spanish government in the coming days.

Lane was backed by the European Parliament's monetary and finance committee, but had little support among ministers.

De Guindos, for his part, had the official support of influential countries, including France, while others, like Germany, were also pushing for his appointment.

"He has a good reputation, he has the recognition from his colleagues, so I think we have found a good candidate," German minister Peter Altmaier said before the meeting.

The Spanish minister, who is now the longest-serving minister in the Eurogroup, had been slated for the ECB position for months, in replacement for Portugal's Vitor Constancio, who leaves in June.

After he had failed to win the Eurogroup presidency in 2015, de Guindos was looking for another high profile position.

As a member of the centre-right EPP party and a minister from the south, he also had a double political and geographical support, as southern Europe is catching up on its under-representation in the EU institutions.

For Lane, who applied to the ECB position at the last minute, "it was difficult to stay in the race while he could feel he had almost no support among ministers," a diplomat told EUobserver.

De Guindos "will do an excellent job," Irish minister Paschal Donohoe said, insisting that he wanted to maintain a consensus within the Eurogroup.

"No one wanted to have blood on the walls for the nomination," the diplomat said, adding that "the distribution of positions has been ready for some time," the official added.

In December, Portugal's Centeno was elected Eurogroup's chair while the Netherlands' Hans Vijlbrief was appointed president of the Eurogroup working group (EWG), the body that prepares the Eurogroup meetings.


Next year, the position of ECB president will also be open, when Mario Draghi ends his mandate in November 2019.

With a Spanish vice president at the ECB, many now expect that the presidential seat will go to a northerner.

"Everybody knows that Germany is at the end of the corridor", a second official told EUobserver, referring to Bundesbank president Jens Weidmann being a strong favourite for the post.

De Guindos insisted however that there were "no conditionalities" to his appointment at the ECB.

"It was a very transparent and open process," Centeno insisted at a press conference after the meeting.

He said that De Guindos, who worked in the past for the Lehman Brothers bank and the PriceWaterhouseCoopers consultancy firm, has "a very rich CV, the profile of a decision-maker."

"His recent experience shows a track record of good judgement," he added, referring to De Guindos steering of austerity policies to put Spain out of the crisis.

The minister's political profile for a central banker job was however criticised.

"His appointment could create a conflict of interest and undermine the independence of the governance of the ECB," said the centre-left S&D group in the European Parliament.

"The Eurogroup is doing the ECB's credibility a disservice," Green MEP Sven Giegold also said, pointing at the same issues.

The Spanish minister, who did not enter the Eurogroup room when his colleagues discussed his appointment, will have to be recommended by the 27 finance ministers on Tuesday. The final decision to appoint him to the Frankfurt-based role will be taken by EU leaders in March.

Eurogroup starts process to pick new ECB chiefs

Eurozone finance ministers will pick who they recommend to become the European Central Bank vice-president - the choice is between their Spanish colleague Luis de Guindos, and the governor of the Central Bank of Ireland, Philip Lane.

Centeno: Eurogroup picks Southern head

Portuguese finance minister was chosen by his eurozone colleagues with a 'very substantial majority' after he appeared to be the only one ticking the boxes.

Opinion

Paying a high cost: EU's role in Spain's painful health cuts

The EU should either conduct, or ask states to conduct, human rights impact assessments of country-specific recommendations to ensure that the implementation of austerity measures does not result in reduced human rights protections.

MEPs redouble appeal on sexual harassment

The EU parliament's internal chiefs have so far refused to introduce mandatory training on dealing with sexual harassment. MEPs have now asked for it again.

Centre-right MEPs want transparency vote to be secret

A number of centre-right MEPs are pushing for a secret ballot on a plenary vote that would make EU lawmakers more transparent and accountable to the public - in a move described as "absurd" by Transparency International.

News in Brief

  1. May's Brexit deal defeated by 230 votes
  2. German economy hit by global economic turbulence
  3. MEPs narrowly call for end to 'tampon tax'
  4. MEPs back spending €6bn on fusion energy research
  5. MEPs call for 'awareness campaign' on autonomous car benefits
  6. German glyphosate report 'copy-pasted' from industry
  7. Commission set to reveal controversial common tax plan
  8. Merkel plans major EU-China summit for 2020

Opinion

Fiscal discipline rules in eurozone are devastating

New rules are needed that do not place the heaviest burdens on a few countries, but ensure that all countries benefit from the euro. Avoiding imbalances in trade between countries can do this.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General

Latest News

  1. UK parliament rejects May's Brexit deal in historic defeat
  2. EU suggests majority vote on digital tax by 2025
  3. MEPs redouble appeal on sexual harassment
  4. Trump's wall vs Europe's sea
  5. Centre-right MEPs want transparency vote to be secret
  6. Germany scorns 'unusual' US threat on Russia pipeline
  7. UK parliament vote expected to prompt Brexit delay
  8. Pro-EU MEPs still see room for stopping Brexit

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs
  2. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  3. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  4. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  5. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  6. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  8. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  10. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us