Merkel prepared to back Draghi for ECB job

Germany is ready to back Italy's central bank chief Mario Draghi to take over as European Central Bank president, Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday.

Merkel prepared to back Draghi for ECB job
Photo: DPA

“Germany could support his candidacy for the position of ECB president,” she told Die Zeit weekly in an interview.

Germany’s Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble has previously also suggested he would like to see Draghi as the next head of the ECB when Frenchman Jean-Claude Trichet’s term ends in October.

Merkel told Die Zeit that Draghi was “a very interesting and experienced figure” whose positions on monetary stability and the 17-nation eurozone economy in general were close to her own.

She had previously remained mum on backing Draghi, even after French President Nicolas Sarkozy expressed his support for the Italian, with some observers speculating Merkel was holding out for some unspecified concessions.

It is widely understood that any successful candidate would have to have the backing of the two biggest eurozone economies.

Berlin was left without a viable candidate of its own after former Bundesbank president Axel Weber announced his resignation in February.

Draghi, head of the Italian central bank, then emerged as the most likely candidate though it would mean the ECB has both a president and vice president from southern European countries.

A former Goldman Sachs banker, Draghi already sits on the ECB governing council and has further experience in international finance as head of the Financial Stability Board, a post he has held since 2009.

His stated support for ensuring that eurozone inflation remains in check and that governments respect strict fiscal guidelines has been crucial in garnering support from Germany.


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Italy expands €200 payment scheme and introduces public transport bonus

Italy's government will extend its proposed one-time €200 benefit to more people and introduce a €60 public transport payment, Italian media reported on Thursday.

Italy expands €200 payment scheme and introduces public transport bonus

Seasonal workers, domestic and cleaning staff, the self-employed, the unemployed and those on Italy’s ‘citizens’ income’ will be added to the categories of people in Italy eligible for a one-off €200 payment, ministers reportedly announced on Thursday evening.

The one-time bonus, announced earlier this week as part of a package of financial measures designed to offset the rising cost of living, was initially set to be for pensioners and workers on an income of less than €35,000 only.

However the government has now agreed to extend the payment to the additional groups following pressure from Italy’s labour, families, and regional affairs ministers and representatives of the Five Star Movement, according to news agency Ansa.

Pensioners and employees will reportedly receive the €200 benefit between June and July via a direct payment into their pension slip or pay packet.

For other groups, a special fund will be created at the Labour Ministry and the procedures for claiming and distributing payments detailed in an incoming decree, according to the Corriere della Sera news daily.

One new measure introduced at the cabinet meeting on Thursday is the introduction of a one-time €60 public transport bonus for students and workers earning below €35,000. The bonus is reportedly designed to encourage greater use of public transport and will take the form of an e-voucher that can be used when purchasing a bus, train or metro season pass.

Other provisions reportedly proposed in the energy and investment decree (decreto energia e investimenti), which is still being adjusted and amended, include extending energy bill discounts, cutting petrol excise duty and rolling on the deadline to claim Italy’s popular ‘superbonus 110’.

The €14 billion aid package, intended to lessen the economic impact of the war in Ukraine, will “fight the higher cost of living” and is “a temporary situation”, Prime Minister Mario Draghi has said.

The Local will report further details of the payment scheme once they become available following final approval of the decree.