Lamfalussy expected to be new bank's first head

Click to follow
The Independent Online
ALEXANDRE LAMFALUSSY, general manager of the Bank for International Settlements, is expected to become the first president of the European Monetary Institute, the forerunner of the European central bank.

The Committee of European Central Bankers has recommended the appointment of Mr Lamfalussy to the forthcoming summit of EC leaders on 29 October, billed as a 'celebration' of the ratification of the Maastricht treaty.

The committee expects its recommendation to be accepted, clearing the way for Andrew Crockett, a Bank of England director in charge of international affairs, to take Mr Lamfalussy's place at the BIS, the central bankers' bank.

Mr Lamfalussy's appointment also requires the approval of EC finance ministers and the European Parliament. There is a slim chance that the appointment could become embroiled in the question of where to locate the new institution.

Germany appears to be winning broad support for siting the EMI in Frankfurt, although Mainz, a small historic town nearby, and Bonn have also been mentioned. Although Britain had pressed for London, there was no support from other member states. Only the Dutch government is putting up strong resistance to Frankfurt, offering Amsterdam as an alternative.

If the site of the EMI is not decided soon then Mr Lamfalussy, a Hungarian- born Belgian banker, may be forced to work from the BIS in Basle, Switzerland, a non-EC country, where the EC central bankers maintain their secretariat.

Under the Maastricht treaty the EMI becomes operational on 1 January 1994, the start of stage two of European monetary union.

Mr Lamfalussy, highly respected in central banking and finance ministry circles, is an advocate of fixed exchange rate systems and has been a strong supporter of the European exchange rate mechanism.

Before joining the BIS in 1976, Mr Lamfalussy was a director of Banque Bruxelles Lambert.