Lagarde almost certain to be EU candidate for IMF: source

Lagarde almost certain to be EU candidate for IMF: source

Lagarde is practically a shoo-in, we should get such a signal at Deauville," in France, said the source, referring to the summit Thursday and Friday of the world's eight top industrialised powers. The G8 gathers Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States.

"Europe owes it to itself to act quickly," the source said.

"The EU does not have another candidate, there is no fallback," the source added, referring to a judicial probe in France into whether Lagarde misused her authority as a minister by intervening in a banking scandal involving controversial tycoon Bernard Tapie.

Outgoing European Central Bank president Jean-Claude Trichet, also French, is "not a candidate," the source said, adding that he would not attract unanimous support either.

As for Germany, European's powerhouse economy, "it does not have a candidate and won't have one."

The EU source spoke after the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development's Mexican secretary general Angel Gurria said the time had come to choose a non-European to head the International Monetary Fund, a post Europe has claimed since the IMF was set up.

"I am totally in agreement that it is the time to change the tradition," Gurria said. "I think that this time it is possible but it must be done quickly.

Poland's Prime Minister Donald Tusk today raised the possibility of presenting Leszek Balcerowicz, the pioneer of Poland's transition from communism to the free market, as a rival candidate for European leaders to consider.

Tusk said he had "spoken over the telephone about the situation at the IMF" with Balcerowicz.

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe meanwhile urged European unity in choosing a common candidate.

"I think it would be very fortunate if we would be able to agree on a (candidate) proposal which could be then accepted by the IMF," Juppe said during a trip to Poland.

"If there are several European candidates, the IMF managing director will not be European," Juppe warned.