French candidate for European bank

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The Independent Online
France said yesterday it would present the Bank of France governor, Jean-Claude Trichet, as its candidate to run the future European Central Bank (ECB).

The nomination, announced in a joint statement by President Jacques Chirac and Prime Minister Lionel Jospin, sets Mr Trichet against Dutchman Wim Duisenberg, the current favourite and head of the ECB's forerunner, the European Monetary Institute (EMI).

"The role of the future European Central Bank in ensuring the credibility and success of the single currency will be crucial and the choice of the team leading the European Central Bank will be decisive in ensuring that the euro is launched in the best conditions possible," the statement said.

Mr Chirac forwarded France's nomination to Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, whose country currently holds the European Union presidency. The French announcement was immediately blasted by the Dutch central bank, which Mr Duisenberg headed before moving to the EMI this year.

"We are surprised by this nomination of Mr Trichet and we also think that it's not very wise," said a Dutch central bank spokesman. "We are of the opinion that Mr Duisenberg is supported by a very large majority of the member states of the European Union and that also, given his reputation, he will in our view still be the first president of the ECB."

The German central bank president, Hans Tietmeyer, has said he favours Mr Duisenberg as head of the ECB.