National Bank of Hungary honours Austrian governor

Ewald Nowotny receives Lamfalussy Award for ‘exceptional international efforts’; associated conference in Budapest features comments from a host of European central bankers
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National Bank of Austria governor Ewald Nowotny was yesterday named the inaugural winner of the Lamfalussy Award, a prize designed by the National Bank of Hungary to recognise "exceptional international efforts".

He received the award, named after the first president of the European Monetary Institute, at a ceremony in Vienna last night. The prize-giving was preceded by a conference on the European Monetary Union (EMU) in Budapest last week, where Nowotny, alongside a host of other central banks, delivered speeches.

Nowotny used his remarks to call for a closer political union in Europe. "I consider a closer co-operation of the EU members able and willing to engage in more advanced levels of political and economic integration the only way to achieve the desired future political foundations for [the] EMU," he said.

Christian Noyer, the Banque de France governor, also called for greater European integration, but focused his comments on the banking union. He insisted the creation of the single supervisory mechanism was "well on track" and called for the swift adoption of a single resolution mechanism (SRM) to support it.

He said the version of the SRM agreed by the European governments in December was "not ideal" because "it requires a long transition period, which could fuel uncertainties". Nonetheless, Noyer insisted that "what matters most" is that a "clear and common set of rules" for bank resolution is established.

The Bank of Spain's chief economist, Jose Luis Malo de Molina, considered another kind of expansion – the prospect of the monetary union gaining new members. Latvia became the eighteenth member of the eurozone last month, while Lithuania is on course to become the nineteenth in 2015.

Molina highlighted the importance of a "sustained convergence drive... beyond the efforts needed to meet monetary union entry requirements". He warned that macroeconomic divergences can have "serious consequences" if they are not addressed promptly.

He added that prospective members should be willing to implement more disciplined fiscal policies and structural reforms "in order to achieve an appropriate level of flexibility and capacity of adjustment".

Nowotny donated the €60,000 ($81,100) prize to the Central European University in Budapest. The university released a statement saying it will use the money to fund scholarships for "outstanding Hungarian students" in the fields of economics, finance, business and public policy.

The National Bank of Hungary also gave a second award, named after its first governor, Sándor Popovics, to Márton Nagy, an executive director at the central bank, in recognition of "his outstanding professional work in the fields of economics and finance".

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