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20th Jul 2019

Lagarde set to lead ECB

  • France's Christine Lagarde was nominated to lead the ECB (Photo: Council of the EU)

Christine Lagarde is set to lead the European Central Bank following a breakthrough deal on top EU jobs at a summit in Brussels on Tuesday (2 July).

The French former finance minister and current managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is now set to succeed Mario Draghi, whose terms comes to an end in October.

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Lagarde accepted the nomination on Twitter only moments after it was officially announced by European Council president Donald Tusk.

"In light of this, and in consultation with the ethics committee of the IMF Executive Board, I have decided to temporarily relinquish my responsibilities as IMF managing director during the nomination period," she said.

If confirmed, the 63-year old Lagarde would become the second French national to lead the Frankfurt-based institution. She would also become its first female leader.

The ECB is the central bank of the 19 eurozone countries, tasked to maintain price stability in the euro area and preserve the purchasing power of the single currency.

The French lawyer has been pegged as more of a politician than as an economist, possibly ushering in a new ECB leadership style that departs from the more stoic career economist Draghi.

Although not trained as a economist, Lagarde has spent the past eight years at the helm of the Washington-based IMF.

Earlier this week, she warned of a global slowdown of growth following a sharp increase in trade tensions and Brexit, among other financial difficulties.

She is also not without controversy.

In 2016, she went to trial in an affair that cost the French taxpayer over €400m following a payment to a French tycoon during her time as a finance minister.

Before jumping into politics in France, Lagarde worked as anti-trust and labour lawyer, serving as a partner with the international law firm of Baker & McKenzie.

She was elected the firm's chair in 1999, a post she retained until 2005 when she took up a ministerial position on foreign trade in France.

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