Eurogroup has chosen Spain’s Economy Minister Luis de Guindos as the new vice-president of the European Central Bank (ECB), leaving the door open for a German to be the likely nominee to fill the top job
De Guindos will succeed Portugal’s Vitor Constancio when he takes over the post in May.
For the first time in the group’s history, ministers from the EU-19 chose an insider from their own ranks to take over as ECP’s vice-president. according to a brief statement issued as soon as Monday’s Eurogroup meeting was about to be over in Brussels: “The Eurogroup gives its support to the candidacy of Luis de Guindos for the position of Vice President of the European Central Bank”.
According to various EU politicians, the appointment could affect the independence of the ECB as de Guindos is a sitting minister and a European Peoples Party stalwart. De Guidos has tried to refute claims that his current position and party affiliation will put the ECB’s independence at risk.
“I have been a minister, but to be a minister is something that does not limit my ability to defend independence of the ECB,” de Guindos told reporters after his appointment late on Monday.
“De Guindos has a rich CV and long track record as a decision maker,” said Eurogroup President Mário Centeno, saying he had been able to manage Spain through its economic crisis. “I am very confident that Luis will perform his role.”
“Vitor Constancio has been a finance minister and a secretary of a political party,” the European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation, and Customs, Pierre Moscovici. “I, myself, have been a very political finance minister and I can be a very political Commissioner in a political Commission,” he added, saying he backed de Guidos’ selection.
Jens Weidmann, governor of the German Bundesbank, looks the most likely to be elected as head of the ECB next year. Ireland’s Philip Lane, who had been a candidate to be VP but withdrew shortly before de Guindos was elected, could also be tapped to lead the ECB.