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Lagarde confirmed as ECB president, thanks EU leaders for ‘honour’

Former International Monetary Fund head Christine Lagarde thanked EU leaders for appointing her as the next president of the European Central Bank (ECB) on Friday, saying it is "an honour" to succeed incumbent Mario Draghi.

Brussels, 18 October 2019 (dpa/MIA) – Former International Monetary Fund head Christine Lagarde thanked EU leaders for appointing her as the next president of the European Central Bank (ECB) on Friday, saying it is “an honour” to succeed incumbent Mario Draghi.

“I am looking forward to working with the ECB’s talented staff to keep euro area prices stable and banks safe,” Lagarde wrote on Twitter.

EU leaders confirmed the 63-year-old’s appointment as the first woman to head the Frankfurt-based financial institution at the final day of a Brussels summit.

She is set to take office on November 1. The European Parliament and the ECB have already signed off on her appointment. Her confirmation by EU leaders was the final formal step.

Analysts are not expecting any dramatic change in the ECB’s monetary strategy; the Frenchwoman has already backed Draghi’s ultra-loose monetary course.

She is to take office at a moment of economic uncertainty for the bloc, against a backdrop of international trade conflict.

EU leaders were also grappling Friday with the bloc’s long-term budget, amid disagreement over how to square a Brexit-related funding shortfall with new priorities such as migration and climate change.

At stake is the EU budget framework for 2021-27. The funds – which pale in comparison to national public spending – flow back to member states in areas such as agricultural subsidies, research grants or funding for poorer member states.

The negotiations are usually fraught affairs, with rifts between net contributing states and those that receive more than they pay in.

Friday’s talks aim to unblock negotiations, with member states far off their self-imposed target of reaching an end-of-year agreement.

European Commission president-elect Ursula von der Leyen also took centre stage as leaders discussed the bloc’s future priorities, which include greater ambition on climate change and a stronger global role for the European Union.

Von der Leyen was also likely to face questions over trouble she has run into with the European Parliament, which has rejected three of her 26 commissioners. As a result, her new team will not be able to take office on November 1, as planned.

The two-day summit began Thursday when leaders endorsed a last-minute Brexit deal, clearing a hurdle for Britain to leave the European Union on October 31.

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