BERLIN/PARIS (Reuters) - France is still pushing for a European consensus around a candidate to run the International Monetary Fund, the finance ministry said on Tuesday, quashing reports of a Franco-German deal to back the Bank of England’s Mark Carney for the job.
The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung said earlier that Germany and France had agreed some time ago to support BOE governor Carney as a replacement for IMF chief Christine Lagarde, nominated last week to head the European Central Bank.
“There is no such deal,” a spokeswoman for the French finance ministry said. “As the minister has repeatedly said ... no-one can say they have support from France. No such decision has been taken by French authorities. We believe there should be consensus around one European name.”
Without citing a source, the German daily earlier reported that Berlin and Paris had originally agreed to support Carney with a view to him taking over at the Washington-based IMF in 2021.
But this had been moved forward due to Lagarde’s forthcoming move to the ECB, where she will take over from Mario Draghi, the newspaper added. It said Carney was available from January 2020.
A spokesman for the Bank of England declined to comment on the report.
A French official said at the weekend that, while France was aware that support was growing for Carney - who holds Canadian, British and Irish citizenship - there was concern that appointing “basically a Canadian” would set a precedent.
Carney was born and raised in Canada. He has also served in the past as a governor of the Bank of Canada.
Other Europeans “well considered” in Paris for the IMF job include EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, who is Danish, and former Dutch finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the French official said.
Another senior French official said France was looking for a “continental European” as a candidate, which would rule out Carney as well as Britain’s former finance minister George Osborne.
The head of the IMF, whose members include most 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.
Additional reporting by William Schomberg in London; Writing by Paul Carrel and Sarah White, editing by Thomas Escritt and Gareth Jones