German finance minister pledges quick decision on new European Central Bank executive

BERLIN – Germany’s finance minister on Monday said Berlin will decide quickly on a replacement for a top European Central Bank official who is returning to domestic politics, and praised a senior Bundesbank official who is seen as a front-runner.

ECB executive board member Joerg Asmussen is becoming a deputy labour minister in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s new government. Asmussen, who has two young children, cited personal reasons.

Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble told Deutschlandfunk radio that the government “will consider carefully and quickly” who to propose for the influential ECB job.

Asked about media reports that Berlin favours Sabine Lautenschlaeger, the vice-president of Germany’s central bank, Schaeuble said “that is certainly a good thought.” He says she has “great experience” of bank supervision, a job the ECB is taking on.

In other ECB business Monday, Danièle Nouy of France was appointed by European Union governments to head the Supervisory Board in charge of banking supervision throughout the 17-nation euro zone.

“The appointment of the Supervisory Board chair marks an important milestone as the ECB establishes a single supervisory mechanism for banks in the euro area,” European Central Bank president Mario Draghi said in a statement

“Mrs. Nouy brings almost 40 years of experience in banking supervision. Her appointment will allow the Supervisory Board to take up its work soon and put in place all organizational requirements with the aim of assuming our supervisory responsibilities starting on Nov. 4, 2014.”

European Union finance ministers are scheduled to meet in Brussels on Wednesday to try to put the finishing touches on an agreement on how to deal with failing or troubled banks in countries that use the euro currency.

Until recently, the ECB said in a news release, Nouy was secretary general of the French Prudential Supervision and Resolution Authority. She formerly held the positions of deputy secretary general and secretary general of the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision.

Her appointment as Supervisory Board chair begins Jan. 1 and will run for five years.