Episode 30: Interviews with EBRD Candidates

 

On Friday the Governors of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) will decide who will be the Bank’s next President.

Today we are publishing interviews with four of the candidates. In September 2009, the leaders of the G-20 meeting in Pittsburgh called for the “the heads and senior leadership of all international institutions [to] be appointed through an open, transparent and merit-based process.” Despite this commitment, over last few months European Ministers have been horse-trading behind closed doors to try to get one of their nationals into a number of jobs which are up for grabs: as well as the Presidency of the EBRD, Ministers have to find a new Chair of the Eurogroup, someone to head the Eurozone’s permanent bail-out fund, and a new member of the board of the European Central Bank. But European Ministers have not been able to reach agreement, so for the first time ever the EBRD Governors have not been presented with a fait accompli. Five candidates will be in London this Thursday to be interviewed for the role, and the Governors are expected to make a decision by the end of the week. At the Center for Global Development we believe this appointment should not be based on nationality, in some gigantic trade-off between unrelated institutions, but on the basis of merit and substance.  We hope to make our own modest contribution to this by offering a public forum for the candidates to discuss their vision for the future of the EBRD. Over the last couple of days I interviewed the four candidates who accepted our offer. We’ve put the interviews together in a Development Drums podcast. You can listen to this online, or download the podcast to your MP3 player, either from the Development Drums website or free in iTunes.  We will also be publishing a transcript of the interviews.

The four candidates who agreed to be interviewed are:  Thomas Mirow (at 03:58), the incumbent who has completed one four year term as President and is seeking re-election for the second term; Jan Krzysztof Bielecki (at 17:40), former prime minister of Poland; Suma Chakrabarti (35:45), a senior British civil servant;   and Bozidar Djelic (at 47:43), the former deputy Prime Minister of Serbia.  The fifth candidate, Philippe de Fontaine Vive Curtaz, is vice president of the European Investment Bank and did not choose to participate in this process. In the interviews, the candidates talk about the implications for the EBRD of the planned expansion to the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean. They respond to criticisms of the EBRD for not doing enough on gender.  And they talk about how their own professional background equips them to be an effective leader of the institution. The interviews reveal some striking differences of view between the candidates. For example, the candidates offer quite different opinions about the extent of change that will be needed in the organisation to fulfil its new mandate in North Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean.  Candidates also had quite different views about how they would respond to the criticism of the EBRD’s approach to women.  Given the differences in substance between the candidates revealed by these interviews, nobody should be in any doubt that the choice of the next president of the EBRD will have important real world consequences. Running time 56 minutes; size: 33.2 Mb.

Download transcript (pdf)

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Comments

I think that the new EBRD Chairman should at least speak English. I could not understand a word of Bielecki’s interiew.

Where’s the beef?
I realize the candidates had little incentive to wade into contentious issues when their words might be used against them when the board was finally deliberating.
Even so, I found the candidates’ comments very light on substance. Can they even explain how the tool of private sector investment links to the broader social transformations the global community wants the multilateral institutions to contribute to? It was hard to tell if they were technically very knowledgeable in the key domains in which the Bank works. Which development objectives can private sector investment and private sector development contribute to? And which not? What do the last 20 years of EBRD experience tell us that should be reflected in the next 20 (or even 4) years? What has the Bank learned from helping authoritarian regimes (e.g. Central Asia, Belarus) move towards…uh, “post-authoritarian” political and economic systems that gives insight into what they should focus on as the move into the post-Arab Spring countries? How can a private sector development and investment platform support this particular kind of transition?
Bozidar Djelic’s comments, in my opinion, were more compelling than the others – and based on these 4 interviews he would get my vote.
Though his interview was unimpressive, T Mirow is almost certainly is strong on substance. And by most accounts his performance these past 4 years merits re-appointment. I gather Germany has chosen to use their chips elsewhere.
Given that we now know S Chakrabarty got the nod, I wonder, how would you characterize the process?
To me it seems like candidates had to have most of the required competencies to make the “short list”. Then the selection process was a politics-driven stitch-up, like before, except instead of having only two voters who matter (France and Germany) the numbers were a bit larger. If this is a fair characterization, the process is still better than that manifested in the WB selection.
You’ve helped make the process of selecting EBRD’s next president a bit more transparent. Well-done.

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