September 15, 2017 / 7:23 PM / 7 days ago

France and Italy open to German ECB chief, but not Weidmann: Spiegel

Deutsche Bundesbank (German Federal Bank) President Jens Weidmann attends the ‘G20 Africa Partnership – Investing in a Common Future’ Summit in Berlin, Germany June 13, 2017. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - France and Italy have signalled to Germany that they are open to a German becoming president of the European Central Bank but not if it is Bundesbank chief Jens Weidmann, Der Spiegel reported on Friday.

The German magazine said that representatives from France and Italy had informed German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble and his officials of their position.

Paris and Rome fear Weidmann, a long-time critic of the ECB’s quantitative easing programme, would oppose a flexible and pragmatic monetary policy in times of crisis, but Der Spiegel suggested Berlin was unlikely to agree with that view.

“We have just one qualified candidate on offer, and it is Weidmann,” it quoted an unnamed source close to the German government as saying.

Asked about the report, a spokesman for the German finance ministry, Daniel Fehling, told Reuters: “These are personnel questions. We do not comment on them.”

France’s finance ministry also declined to comment when contacted by Reuters, but a French government source said there were no such discussions at this stage.

The term of the current ECB president, Italy’s Mario Draghi, expires in late 2019.

Reporting by Tom Sims; Additional reporting by Thomas Escritt in Berlin, and Maya Nikolaeva and Michel Rose in Paris; Editing by Gareth Jones

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