Europe demands that next IMF chief comes from EU
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Last Updated: Friday, May 20, 2011, 00:05
Brussels: Europe's top officials closed ranks on Thursday to demand that the IMF's next leader be one of their own, someone with enough technical expertise and political savvy to handle the continent's relentless debt crisis.

Frenchman Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who has been widely praised for his leadership of the Intentional Monetary Fund and its involvement in solving Europe's woes, resigned yesterday to devote "all his energy" to fighting sexual assault charges in New York.

The move heated up simmering debate over his successor, with Europe aggressively staking its traditional claim to the post even as fast-growing nations like China and Brazil say it's time to break that monopoly and seek an IMF chief from a developing nation. The Washington, DC-based organisation is empowered to direct billions of dollars to stabilise the global economy.

Hours after Strauss-Kahn's resignation, everyone from the European Commission to the German chancellor to the French finance minister herself a potential candidate said the replacement should come from Europe. Not because of any tradition, they insisted, but because intimate knowledge of Europe's debt crisis should be a critical element of any candidate's portfolio.

"From a European point of view, it is essential that the appointment will be merit-based, where competence and economic and political experience play the key role," said Olli Rehn, European Commissioner for Monetary and Economic Affairs.

"And in this current juncture it is a merit if the person has quite solid knowledge of the European economy and decision making."

There is no indication yet when a decision will be made. But a meeting of the G-8 a group of eight developed countries takes place next week in the seaside resort of Deauville, France, and all the major decision-makers will be there.

France's Finance Minister Christine Lagarde has in recent days been touted in many European capitals as a good choice. A sharp, articulate negotiator, she has a strong international reputation and impeccable English after living in the United States for many years.


First Published: Friday, May 20, 2011, 00:05

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