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ECONOMY

Spain’s De Guindos in line for ECB job after Irish candidate withdraws

Irish central bank chief Philip Lane pulled out of the race for the vice-presidency of the European Central Bank on Monday, leaving favourite Spanish Economy Minister Luis De Guindos the only candidate.

Spain's De Guindos in line for ECB job after Irish candidate withdraws
Photo: AFP

Eurozone finance ministers were widely expected to pick their Spanish peer for the top job, the first of a series of changes at the ECB over the coming two years, including the post of the chief of the bank currently held by Italian Mario Draghi.

“I will be withdrawing Philip's name and I have spoken to Minister De Guindos and wished him the best of luck this evening,” Irish Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said as he arrived for talks to fill the post with his
eurozone counterparts.   

The ministers “will make a decision tonight that will be in the best interest of the functioning and success of the European Central Bank,” he added.

The choice comes despite the scepticism of senior European lawmakers who said they preferred Lane, who is not a politician, over his rival after an informal hearing last week.

MEPs raise concerns over de Guindos as ECB candidate

EU leaders will ultimately choose the successor to Portugal's Vitor Constancio, whose eight-year mandate expires in May, as the ECB's number two.   

That decision will be taken on March 22 at an EU summit after consultations with the European Parliament and the ECB's Governing Council.   

De Guindos, a veteran of eurozone economic policy, said this month he was “convinced” he will have enough support to clinch the post after Madrid officially nominated him for the job.

De Guindos defended his candidacy, saying he was the longest-serving member of the Eurogroup, which groups eurozone finance ministers.   

He has served as economy minister since Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's conservative government came to power in 2011.   

As economy minister he oversaw the clean-up of Spain's banking industry that collapsed after a housing boom imploded during the worst of the eurozone debt crisis.

In exchange Spain had to impose tough austerity measures to reduce the county's public deficit.

Before entering the government, De Guindos led the Iberian unit of Lehman Brothers between 2006 and 2008 before the investment bank collapsed.

MONEY

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.

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