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ECONOMY

MEPs raise concerns over de Guindos as ECB candidate

Irish central bank chief Philip Lane, who is running for the vice-presidency of the European Central Bank, on Thursday won the backing of a key European Parliament committee.

MEPs raise concerns over de Guindos as ECB candidate
Luis de Guindos is in the running for the ECB job. Photo: AFP

After talking to Lane and his rival for the job, Spanish Economy Minister Luis De Guindos, in an informal hearing “the majority of the political groups considered Governor Lane's performance more convincing”, Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs chairman Roberto Gualtieri said.

“Some groups expressed reservations for Minister De Guindos' appointment,” he added in a statement.

Eurozone finance ministers are scheduled on Monday to pick their favourite to succeed Portugal's Vitor Constancio, whose eight-year mandate expires in May, as the ECB's number two.

The final decision will be taken on March 22 at an EU summit after consultations with the European Parliament and the ECB's Governing Council.   

Luis de Guindos said this month he was “convinced” he will have enough support to clinch the post after Madrid officially nominated him for the job.    

Constancio's replacement is being watched closely in European capitals as it is the first in a series of changes due at the top of the ECB over the coming two years, including the post of the chief of the bank currently held by Italian Mario Draghi.

The committee Thursday also said it “regrets that no female candidates have been put forward, as requested, and calls for a more gender balanced representation in the ECB”.

Only one woman currently sits on the ECB's ruling body, German national Sabine Lautenschlaeger.

ECONOMY

Sweden’s new right-wing govt slashes development aid

Sweden, one of the world's biggest international donors, is planning drastic aid cuts in the coming years, the country's new right-wing government said in its budget bill presented on Tuesday.

Sweden's new right-wing govt slashes development aid

Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson’s government said it planned to reduce the country’s international aid by 7.3 billion kronor ($673 million) in 2023, and by another 2.2 billion kronor in 2024.

That is around a 15-percent reduction from what had been planned by the previous left-wing government and means Sweden will abandon its foreign aid target of 1 percent of gross national income.

International aid for refugees will be capped at a maximum of eight percent of its aid, and will also be reduced.

According to the specialised site Donor Tracker, Sweden was the world’s eighth-biggest international aid donor in terms of absolute value last year, and the third-biggest in proportion to the size of its economy, donating 0.92 percent of its gross national income, behind Luxembourg and Norway.

The new government, which is backed for the first time by the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats, had announced in its government programme last month that it would be cutting foreign aid.

Since 1975, Stockholm has gone further than the UN’s recommendation of donating at least 0.7 percent of its wealth to development aid.

Despite its growth forecast being revised downwards — the economy is expected to shrink by 0.4 percent next year and grow by 2 percent in 2024 — the 2023 budget forecasts a surplus of 0.7 percent of gross domestic product.

It calls for an additional 40 billion kronor in spending, with rising envelopes for crime fighting and the building of new nuclear reactors, as well as a reduction in taxes on petrol and an increase in the defence budget.

The new government is a minority coalition made up of Kristersson’s conservative Moderates, the Christian Democrats and the Liberal party, backed in parliament by their key ally the Sweden Democrats to give them a majority.

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