Austria Is Said to Drop Demand for ECB Seat in Boost to Lane

Paul Gordon
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(Bloomberg) -- Austria has dropped its plan to propose a new member of the European Central Bank’s Executive Board as it doesn’t see a suitable spot amid the impending reshuffle of European positions, according to people familiar with the situation.

While Finance Minister Hartwig Loeger said in September that he was “ready” to put forward an Austrian for an upcoming seat at the ECB’s top table, the complex jostling likely to ensue among countries for key roles makes a successful outcome unrealistic, said the people. They asked not to be identified because the considerations are private.

That shift removes one potential rival to Irish central bank Governor Philip Lane, who has been frequently cited as a likely candidate for the next available vacancy. A meeting of euro-area finance ministers on Jan. 21-22 will open the call for candidates to succeed Chief Economist Peter Praet, with a view to picking his replacement on the Executive Board on Feb. 11, a person familiar with the matter said last week.

That decision is only part of the broader horsetrading this year that will also determine the successor to ECB President Mario Draghi, a new head of the European Council, presidents for the European Parliament and the European Commission, and a new Commission. The European Banking Authority is also in need of a chief.

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