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Who Can Influence the ECB?

Eurozone governments will soon have to fill two open slots on the European Central Bank's Executive Board. Rather than proposing candidates who will forcefully promote national views, they should consider nominees who are likely to be able to influence ECB policy.

ZURICH – Three months after they chose Christine Lagarde to succeed Mario Draghi as president of the European Central Bank, eurozone governments now have other major personnel decisions to make regarding the ECB’s Executive Board. With German board member Sabine Lautenschläger having unexpectedly resigned last month, and her French colleague Benoît Cœuré’s eight-year term ending in December, there are two open slots to be filled.

These positions matter. The six members of the Executive Board, together with the eurozone’s 19 national central-bank governors, form the Governing Council that sets the ECB’s monetary policy. Because the board members all work in Frankfurt, they are in close contact with one another and take the lead in proposing the direction and decisions the council should take.

Eurozone governments have an informal understanding that Germany, France, Italy, and Spain, which together constitute three-quarters of the eurozone economy, can always have a national of their choice on the board. That means the open slots are likely to be filled by a German and an Italian (because Lagarde, like Cœuré, is French, while the departing Draghi is Italian).

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