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Berlin wants Weber as next ECB head

BERLIN, May 12 – Germany insisted that its central bank chief becomes the next head of the European Central Bank as a trade-off for an EU bailout deal Berlin is expected to bankroll, Handelsblatt said Wednesday.

The business daily said Axel Weber has been lined up to replace the current president of the ECB, Frenchman Jean-Claude Trichet, when the latter steps down late next year, citing top government sources.

The deal was a quid pro quo for Germany\’s participation in a near trillion-dollar EU stability fund for potential future bailouts, of which Berlin will make available up to 150 billion euros (190 billion dollars).

Weber, 53, is known as a "hawk" on the ECB\’s board, meaning he favours higher interest rates to ward off inflation, which he believes must be combatted at all costs.

He is also fiercely jealous of the independence of central banks, leading one government source to tell Handelsblatt: "The ECB must again become a refuge for monetary policy stability."

The daily also cites a member of Germany\’s cabinet as saying that "several members of the eurozone agreed with the wishes of the federal government" to install Weber in the ECB\’s Frankfurt-based eurotower.

"If Weber really succeeds in getting to the top of the ECB, then he will be the second-highest German in an international body," the paper commented.

"Ahead of him would be only the pope."

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