By CHRIS GRAEME [email protected]
The Governor of the Bank of Portugal, Vítor Constâncio, is the preferred candidate for the Vice President of the European Central Bank (ECB).
If awarded the plum posting, Portugal’s top banker could take up the position as early as June 1, 2010.
Sources at the ECB say that Vítor Constâncio is in line for the job because of his curriculum and technical and professional experience and abilities.
For the time being, until an official announcement is made, the Bank of Portugal governor is up against competition from rivals Yves Mersch, Governor of the Bank of Luxemburg, and Peter Praet, Executive Director of the National Bank of Belgium.
The eventual choice of future ECB Vice President, who will replace the Greek Lucas Papademos, could even have been decided behind closed doors last Tuesday (December 1) by the ministers of finance for 16 euro currency countries that form Eurogroup.
The group is a meeting of the finance ministers of the eurozone, those member states of the European Union (EU) who have adopted the euro as their official currency.
It is the political control over the euro currency and related aspects of the EU’s monetary union such as the Stability and Growth Pact.
Its current President is Jean-Claude Juncker, who has suggested that the deadline for the final decision on the appointment should be extended to the middle of December.
The ministers meet a day before a meeting of the Economic and Financial Affairs Council (Ecofin) of the Council of the European Union. This group is related to the Council of the European Union (only eurogroup states vote on issues relating to the euro in Ecofin) and was formalised under the Lisbon Treaty.
This means that the final announcement could be made at the next meetings of European finance ministers on January 18 and 19.
Among the three present candidates for the post, Vitor Constâncio is considered the most qualified to do the job both in terms of intellectual and technical abilities and his vast experience in financial services.
Apart from this, the Bank of Portugal Governor also has in his favour the fact that he has already carried out some important financial diplomatic activities.