BRUSSELS -- Eurozone finance ministers on Monday endorsed their Spanish counterpart Luis de Guindos for the coveted post of European Central Bank vice president, after Ireland withdrew the only other candidate.
"Eurogroup gives support to Luis de Guindos," the ministers said in a statement during talks in Brussels.
Spain is the eurozone's No. 4 economy, but has been absent from the ECB board, which is a key part of the apparatus guiding eurozone monetary policy, for almost six years. If officially anointed, de Guindos would take over from incumbent Vitor Constancio.
Earlier, referring to Irish central bank governor Philip Lane, Irish Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said that "I am confirming that we will not be putting his candidacy forward."
Donohoe said it was important for finance ministers from the euro currency countries meeting Monday to decide who should get the job by consensus. He wished de Guindos "the best of luck."
De Guindos could be rubber-stamped by the full council of EU finance ministers as soon as Tuesday. He is then likely to be named by European Union leaders at a March 22-23 summit.
No Spanish official holds any other senior EU post.
France's finance minister, Bruno Le Maire, was quick to announce his country's support for de Guindos, saying that he "has all the skills to be a very good vice president."
Standing alongside Le Maire, German Finance Minister Peter Altmaier said: "I think we have found a good candidate."
Describing de Guindos as "an excellent colleague over several years," EU Economy Commissioner Pierre Moscovici played down concerns about the Spaniard being a politician rather than a banker, saying that "he can adapt and be a good vice president."
ECB officials are tasked with doing what's best for the entire eurozone economy, not with representing the interests of their home countries. But that doesn't stop the member states from pushing to get their nationals into prime posts.
The vice president sits on the six-member executive board that runs the bank day to day at its headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany. The vice president appears at news conferences alongside the ECB president - currently Mario Draghi of Italy - and is a prominent part of the public face of the bank.
Additionally, each executive board member has responsibility for a key area such as international relations or legal questions. Constancio's brief has been the stability of the financial system and research.