BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union wants a European to replace Christine Lagarde at the helm of the International Monetary Fund, top EU officials said on Monday, continuing the tradition of the continent holding the role.
The fund will need to replace Lagarde after she was nominated last week by EU leaders as the next president of the European Central Bank, a job that will start in November.
Names informally cited by officials are those of the former head of the Eurogroup, Dutchman Jeroen Dijsselbloem, Finland’s former prime minister Alexander Stubb, and the current chief executive of the World Bank, Bulgaria’s Kristalina Georgieva.
The issue was discussed by euro zone finance ministers at a meeting on Monday, the chair of the meeting Mario Centeno told a news conference, but no decision was taken as the IMF itself has not yet opened the procedure to find a new managing director.
“For Spain, and I think for all EU countries, the priority is that the director general will continue to be a European,” Spanish Finance Minister Nadia Calvino said on Monday.
French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire urged EU states to find a common candidate as soon as possible.
The head of the Washington-based IMF, whose members include most of the countries in the world, has always been a European, although in the past, large and emerging economies have challenged that practice.
The United States, despite being the IMF’s largest financial backer, does not usually field a candidate because, under an informal deal with European partners, it gets the head of the World Bank - the IMF’s sister organization in the Bretton Woods system forged after World War Two.
An EU official said some EU countries wanted a candidate from an EU member state, an option that could rule out British candidates, as Britain is due to leave the EU at the end of October.
Bank of England governor Mark Carney has been mentioned in media reports as one of Europe’s possible candidates.
Though born and raised in Canada, Carney, also a former governor of the Bank of Canada, holds British and Irish passports in addition to his Canadian citizenship.
When asked about Dijsselbloem as a possibility, Dutch Finance Minister Wopke Hoekstra said: “The Netherlands has some excellent candidates.” An official said Dijsselbloem was the only Dutch name in contention.
Two EU officials said Georgieva was a name being discussed by ministers.
She had been considered for an EU top job in last week’s round of nominations that followed EU elections in May. But eventually she was not chosen by EU leaders for any post, leaving eastern European countries with no top position in the EU.
EU officials said the work to find a common European candidate was being led by Centeno and by Finland, which currently holds the EU’s rotating presidency.
Reporting by Francesco Guarascio @fraguarascio; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Alison Williams