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Euro zone ministers approve Lane as next ECB chief economist

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02/11/2019 | 11:23am EST
European Central Bank (ECB) executive board member Praet speaks during an interview with Reuters in Frankfurt

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Euro zone finance ministers nominated Ireland's central bank governor Philip Lane on Monday to be the next chief economist of the European Central Bank after the term of Belgium's Peter Praet ends on May 31, the ministers said in a statement.

"The Eurogroup today gave its support to the candidacy of Philip Lane to become a new member of the European Central Bank's executive board," the statement said.

Lane, 49, has led Ireland's central bank since 2015, overseeing solid growth in the Irish economy after an EU bailout in 2011-2014 that helped the country overcome its worst financial crisis since World War Two.

He was the only candidate for the job and will be formally confirmed by EU leaders at their summit on March 22-23.

"The new member of the executive board will replace Peter Praet and will serve a non-renewable 8-year term, as of 1 June 2019," the statement said.

Considered a dove closely aligned with ECB President Mario Draghi, Lane will be responsible for preparing monetary policy decisions, one of the most vital positions at the bank.

His appointment comes at a crucial moment for the ECB, when the bank's plans for its first post-crisis rate hike are complicated by an unexpectedly sharp slowdown in the euro zone economy and persistently weak inflation.

Lane will join the ECB as the bank is also facing a broad reshuffle of its key positions, with Draghi's mandate ending in October, and Frenchman Benoit Coeure, who also sits on the six-person ECB board, due to leave in December.

Nearly a third of the 25-member Governing Council, which includes ECB board members and governors of national central banks, is also turned over this year, an unusually high ratio.

Besides the three board members, the central bank governors of Belgium, Austria, Estonia, Slovakia and Cyprus are all expected to be replaced this year.

(Reporting By Jan Strupczewski; editing by Philip Blenkinsop)

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