MEPs back Christine Lagarde as next ECB president  

Christine Lagarde  

Christine Lagarde, the candidate for European Central Bank president, received the support of the European Parliament in a plenary vote on 17 September.

Prior to the vote, Lagarde sent written answers to MEPs and presented her ideas in person at a public hearing organised by the economic and monetary affairs committee on 4 September.

Speaking in plenary before the vote, committee chair Irene Tinagli, an Italian member of the S&D group, highlighted the important role of the European Central Bank: “The commitment of the ECB and its presidents to preserve the single currency with concrete actions has given a fundamental contribution to protecting the euro and enhancing the well-being of all European citizens."

Tinagli said that the answers provided by Lagarde to MEPs’ questions showed her “awareness of the tasks and challenges ahead [...] and her suitability to pursue the mission”.

Lagarde was nominated by EU leaders in July to replace the outgoing ECB president Mario Draghi from 1 November. She has been managing director of the International Monetary Fund since 2011. Prior to that, she held several ministerial posts in France, including that of minister of the economy, finance and industry.

ECB presidents are appointed for a non-renewable term of eight years by EU heads of state or government, but the Parliament must be consulted beforehand. Parliament’s opinion is not binding on the European Council but, as the democratically elected body of the EU, its view carries some weight for the legitimacy of the candidate.

Should Lagarde get the post, she will be the first woman to head the ECB. MEPs have been calling for more women in high-level posts in economic and monetary affairs.

Parliament and the ECB

A key principle in the work of the European Central Bank is its political independence, meaning it should be free to pursue its goal of maintaining price stability without being subject to political pressure.

Even so, in the interest of democratic accountability, the president of the European Central Bank attends quarterly hearings in Parliament’s economic and monetary affairs committee, known as monetary dialogue, to explain the bank’s monetary policy and decisions in front of the elected representatives of Europeans.

The ECB president also presents the bank’s annual report at a sitting of Parliament and responds in writing to written questions posed by MEPs.