France to lead search for European candidate to head IMF: sources

IMF General Manager Christine Lagarde arrives for the family photo at the G20 Osaka Summit in Osaka on June 28, 2019 (AFP)
  • Agence France-Presse
  • July 18, 2019 9:53 AM

Chantilly, France | French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire is to lead talks on finding a single European candidate to succeed Christine Lagarde as head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), sources said on Thursday.

The post of IMF managing director, which by convention goes to a European, became vacant after Lagarde was tapped by EU leaders to head the European Central Bank.

Finance ministers of the four European members of the G7 -- Germany, France, Britain and Italy -- met informally on the sidelines of the meeting of the most developed nations in Chantilly outside Paris to discuss the issue.

Sources said after the meeting that the names of several candidates had been floated but no kind of selection had been made.

"We agreed that it was important one European name was put forward. A number of names were informally discussed but no short list was established," a European official, who asked not to be named, said.

- 'Impartial role' -

At the same time, the British, Italian and German ministers agreed that Le Maire, whose country currently leads the G7, should head informal discussions with all European countries to "foster a consensus" around a single name, the official added.

"The objective remains to agree on one European name by the end of the month."

Le Maire has insisted that he is not interested in the job himself and wants to play a completely impartial role in the search.

"Bruno Le Maire does not have a preferred candidate and France will play its coordination role impartially," said a French official, who asked not to be named.

Several high-profile names have already been floated as possible successors to Lagarde who has steered the IMF since 2011.

They include the Canadian-born Bank of England governor Mark Carney, who holds Canadian, British and Irish nationality, and former British finance minister George Osborne, who is now editor of the London Evening Standard newspaper.

Also in the frame are EU finance commissioner Pierre Moscovici of France and former finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem of the Netherlands as well as Spanish Economy Minister Nadia Calvino.

The IMF board tapped Lagarde's number two, American David Lipton, to serve as interim managing director, but by tradition a European always leads the fund while an American runs its sister institution, the World Bank. 

© Agence France-Presse

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