Christine Lagarde European Central Bank — An agreement was found Tuesday night between the 28 members of the European Union on the “tops jobs”. The current Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel will get the presidency of the European Council while the position of High Representative for Foreign Affairs will be entrusted to the Spaniard Josep Borrell.
After days of deadlock, an agreement was finally reached Tuesday on the appointments to the Brussels summit. Two women are expected to obtain key positions: German Minister Ursula von der Leyen at the European Commission and French Christine Lagarde at the European Central Bank.
The presidency of the European Council will be occupied by the current Belgian Liberal Prime Minister Charles Michel, while the Spanish Socialist Minister Josep Borrell inherits the post of High Representative for Foreign Affairs.
The current President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, has welcomed a “perfect balance between the sexes” with two men and two women. All four leaders, however, are from Western Europe, although the East could inherit the presidency of the European Parliament, on which MEPs will decide Wednesday in Strasbourg. The name of Bulgarian Socialist Sergei Stanishev is circulating.
Unknown abroad, the German Defense Minister, Ursula von der Leyen, a close friend of Angela Merkel, will be the first woman and only the second German to head the Commission. From November 1st and for five years. Her name was proposed by French President Emmanuel Macron, which paved the way for a Frenchwoman, Christine Lagarde, to take the helm of the European Central Bank (ECB). Here too, a first for a woman.
The former French finance minister, who will be appointed for 8 years, said she was “very honored”. “She will occupy this new position with great prudence and commitment,” said Angela Merkel.
“European Heads of State and Government unanimously agreed that Christine Lagarde’s skills and experience qualify her to hold the presidency of the European Central Bank,” Emmanuel Macron said.
The von der Leyen / Lagarde ticket allows France and Germany to each obtain a major European post, and the European right to keep the head of the Commission. The future President of the European Council, Liberal Charles Michel, promised to preserve “unity, diversity and especially solidarity” in the EU.
“Spain is back strongly to represent the EU’s foreign and defense policy,” said Spanish Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, referring to Josep Borrell, his proposed foreign minister for the diplomacy of the EU. This compromise puts an end to deep divisions between European leaders on the new team to lead the EU.
A trained doctor with seven children, Ursula von der Leyen is fluent in French and English and has held several ministerial posts. At 60, this native of Brussels is unpopular in Germany, however, because of a controversial record at the Ministry of Defense.
A sign of the hostility that surrounds her name, Angela Merkel was forced to abstain Tuesday during the vote at the European summit, not to offend his social democratic allies in the coalition government. The Socialist Group in the European Parliament also expressed disappointment.
The appointment of Ursula von der Leyen will have to be approved by a vote in the Chamber. The German, on the other hand, obtained the indispensable support of the four Visegrad Group countries (Hungary, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Poland), who had opposed in the morning another candidate, the Dutch socialist Frans Timmermans.
As for the German Manfred Weber, leader of the EPP (right) in Parliament and who for this reason long claimed the Commission, he officially abandoned in the late afternoon. He should even give up, according to his entourage, his desire to preside in the immediate future the Parliament.
After a night of fruitless haggling between Sunday and Monday, the 28 had promised to come to an agreement this Tuesday to avoid opening the door to populist attacks by showing the image of a divided Europe.
The renewal of these posts has been complicated by the fragmentation of the European political landscape. The May elections saw the EPP and Social Democrats lose control of the majority they held in the European Parliament.
Christine Lagarde, the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), on her Twitter account, a few minutes after the announcement by the European Council of her selection to occupy the presidency of the European Central Bank (ECB). She was “in June 2007 the first woman minister of finance and economy of a country of the G7” as underlines her official biography and the first woman appointed head of the IMF in 2011, replacing Dominique Strauss- Kahn. She will succeed Mario Draghi, whose mandate expires in late October, after validation of his appointment.
“I am honored to have been nominated for the
@ECB Presidency. 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 declared.
Emmanuel Macron explained that the skills of the former minister were unanimous. “The unanimous analysis of the Council was that the capabilities, the skills of Ms. Lagarde fully qualify her for this position,” said the President of the French Republic at a press conference in Brussels, after the of the European Council.
Asked about Christine Lagarde’s lack of experience as a central banker, he stressed that she was well aware of monetary policy issues and had the necessary credibility to address the markets.
At 63, the former business lawyer, ranking third behind Angela Merkel and Theresa May in Forbes’ most powerful women’s ranking in the world last year, will be the first woman to head the ECB and the second personality of French nationality after Jean-Claude Trichet, from 2003 to 2011. The institution headquartered in Frankfurt has only had three presidents since its foundation in 1998.
From July to December 2008, she also chaired Ecofin, the Council of EU Ministers of Economy and Finance, and in this capacity helped to promote international policies focusing on financial supervision and regulation and to strengthen global economic governance. She became president of the G20 when France assumed the presidency in 2011. She also launched a vast project of reform of the international monetary system as underlined in her official biography.
France had two other candidates for Mario Draghi’s succession: the current governor of the Banque de France, François Villeroy de Galhau, and Benoît Cœuré, a member of the executive board of the ECB whose mandate expires at the end of December.