Eurogroup finance ministers have backed the appointment of governor of the Central Bank of Ireland Philip Lane as chief economist of the European Central Bank (ECB).
The appointment will mark the first time Ireland will be represented on the bank’s six-member executive board since it was founded.
Mr Lane, who is the only candidate for the position, will take over from incumbent Peter Praet on June 1st after confirmation by Tuesday’s finance ministers’ meeting and a process involving consultation with the European Parliament and the bank’s executive board.
At the meeting of finance ministers, he will in theory need the support of at least 14 of the 19 euro member states representing at least 65 per cent of the euro zone population – the vote is expected to be unanimous.
His appointment will then be formally approved by EU leaders at a meeting of the European Council in March.
Last year, Mr Lane was nominated by the Government as a vice-president of the bank but his nomination was withdrawn before the election to “avoid divisions”. Spanish finance minister Luis de Guindos won the position.
And late last year the Irish Central Bank’s deputy governor, Sharon Donnery , missed out on becoming the next chair of the ECB’s banking supervision arm. She is widely seen as likely to succeed Mr Lane as governor of the Irish bank.
Mr Lane, 49, is a Harvard-trained former Trinity College professor, has served as its governor since November, 2015. In this role he has been a member of the governing council and general council of the ECB and has played an active role in its risk management committee.
He was the professor of international macroeconomics and director of the Institute for International Integration Studies (IIIS) at Trinity College, Dublin. He had studied at Trinity before receiving a doctorate in economics at Harvard in 1995.
He then became assistant professor of economics and international affairs at Columbia University during 1995-1997, before returning to Trinity College, Dublin in 1997.
Eurogroup ministers also heard a reports from the Commission on the main findings of the tenth post-programme surveillance mission to Ireland and on the ninth post-programme surveillance mission to Portugal, both carried out in November.
Sources described the discussion as brief and pro forma – the reports, part of a biannual monitoring process, record progress made by states following bail-out programmes until they pay off at least 75 per cent of loans. Both countries are seen as performing satisfactorily.
Ministers also had a preliminary discussion on proposals for a euro zone budgetary instrument to assist convergence and competitiveness. The contentious issue divides ambitious France, Spain and Italy from the Dutch and Germans who are determined not to see a redistribution fund created.