MILAN (Reuters) - Bundesbank chief Jens Weidmann, touted as a possible successor to European Central Bank President Mario Draghi when his term expires in 2019, said on Sunday there should be no veto on the ECB’s next boss based on nationality.
In an interview broadcast by Italian state television RAI, the German central banker was asked about comments by former Italian prime minister Enrico Letta, who recently said it would be a “disaster” if Weidmann took Draghi’s job.
“I did not know that. But could you imagine what would be Italy’s reaction if in Germany someone said `absolutely no way’ to the appointment of an Italian at the helm of the ECB?” Weidmann said.
“The same would apply in the case of a Greek or a Belgian colleague. If we start excluding certain countries ... well, that is not the idea of Europe that I have in mind and it would certainly not strengthen the image of the EU and of the euro.”
The 49-year-old Weidmann has been president of Germany’s central bank since May 2011 and his term is due to end in April 2019. Draghi, an Italian national, has been at the helm of the ECB since November 2011 and his term expires at the end of October 2019.
Der Spiegel reported earlier this month that France and Italy had signaled they were open to a German becoming head of the ECB, but not Weidmann, who has often criticized Draghi’s quantitative-easing program.
Paris and Rome fear he would oppose the same kind of ultra-loose monetary policy if he were in charge, according to Der Siegel.
Reporting by Silvia Aloisi