Italian Draghi named next ECB president

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European Union leaders have appointed Mario Draghi as the next European Central Bank (ECB) president.

Draghi, the governor of the Bank of Italy, will take over from Jean-Claude Trichet, the former president of the Banque de France.

Draghi is a well respected figure across Europe, something which should serve him well seing as he takes the helm of the institution at possibly the most difficult period in its history.

Although widely tipped to take over the presidency - a decision backed by leaders in Germany and France - talk of Draghi's appointment had proved controversial due to his fellow countryman, economist Lorenzo Bini Smaghi, also sitting on the executive board.

However coinciding with Draghi's official appointment, the ECB announced Bini Smaghi planned to stand down.

Officials at the ECB said Smaghi had agreed to leave the board by the end of the year.