Daily Archives: June 21, 2011

Ralph Atkins

What will happen to Italy’s Lorenzo Bini Smaghi, the European Central Bank executive board member?

Last week, Nicolas Sarkozy, France’s president, and Silvio Berlusconi, Italy’s prime minister, called for him to resign. They have found no fault with Mr Bini Smaghi – except his nationality. Once Mario Draghi, Italy’s central bank governor, takes over from Jean-Claude Trichet, ECB president,  there will be two Italians on the ECB’s six-man executive board. That, argued Mr Sarkzoy, would “not be very European” (especially as there would no longer be a French member of the board).

   Unsurprisingly, Mr Bini Smaghi, urged on by colleagues at the ECB, has stood firm. For the fiercely-independent ECB this is a matter of great principle; it cannot be seen to be swaying to political interference and Mr Bini Smaghi has stayed put. As such, the ECB has found itself in yet another standoff with eurozone governments.