Central Bank Governor, Philip Lane, is a step closer to becoming an executive board member of the European Central Bank tonight.

The bank's Governing Council today backed the European Council's recommendation that Mr Lane should be appointed to a position on the board.

In a statement this evening, the council said it had no objection to Mr Lane's candidacy.

It said he is "a person of recognised standing and professional experience in monetary or banking matters," as required by the relevant EU treaty.

Mr Lane will be formally appointed by the European Council at a summit in March.

He has already received the backing of the European Parliament, as well as Euro-area and EU finance ministers.

The Central Bank boss will succeed Peter Praet, whose eight-year term on the ECB board ends at the end of May.

Although the nomination is to the six-person executive board, which runs the ECB's affairs on a day-to-day basis, it is widely expected Professor Lane will fill the chief economist role.

A key part of that job is preparing the ECB's monetary policy decisions - the setting of the ECB's interest rates - which in turn effect market interest rates in the euro area.

Once confirmed, Mr Lane will be expected to take up the full-time position in Frankfurt in June - leaving the Government with the task of replacing him as Governor of the Central Bank.