HomeBussinessPhilip Lane comments prompt call to cap Irish staff numbers at the...

Philip Lane comments prompt call to cap Irish staff numbers at the ECB

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The call came after ECB chief economist Philip Lane was reported to have suggested to Junior Minister Neale Richmond that Irish people should be encouraged to join the bank and that having more Irish staff would benefit Ireland.

The comments were reported in the Business Post earlier this month, quoting Mr Richmond. The IPSOS union, which represents staff at the central banks, wrote to the ECB board in response to the comments to raise concerns about the reported comments.

According to the Financial Times, which has seen the letter, it said: “It is very disturbing to see that a member of the executive board is not aiming at achieving an overall balanced representation of nationalities within the ECB, but only at having the representativeness of his own country/government addressed.”

The Business Post quoted Neale Richmond in a report on May 9 saying Philip Lane had raised a concern with him that new entrants from Ireland are not applying to join the ECB to maintain current staffing levels.

“Philip made the point quite clearly: It is important for Irish ministers and officials to have counterparts in the ECB to pick up the phone to… He wasn’t concerned as such, but he was very keen to make sure that we work in tandem to encourage people to go work there,” Mr Richmond told the Business Post.

A spokesman for the ECB on Monday said Prof Lane would not comment on a private conversation.

News of the controversy came as ECB President Christine Lagarde met Simon Harris on Monday on her first visit to Dublin since he became Taoiseach.

Staff at the ECB are supposed to put national interests aside when they join the bank, the European Union’s only truly federal body.

It its letter, IPSOS called for a “system identifying a threshold under which specific efforts must be made to hire and promote certain nationalities” to “ensure a suitable balance of nationalities”.

That would mean less recruitment from Ireland. That’s because Ireland is relatively over represented currently in Frankfurt, with Irish nationals making up 3.7pc of management and 3.3pc of staff and trainee ranks, according to the ECB’s latest annual report.

That is a fraction of Germany, which supplies 37pc of management thanks to it being the location of the ECB headquarters and its outsized scale within the euro area economy.

But Ireland’s figure is more than Belgium, Portugal or Finland and far more than countries like Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia which provide less than 1pc of managers each.

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