The Northern Irishman defeated Colin Montgomerie in a vote of the European Tour's tournament committee in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday.
McGinley had received the backing of some of the continent's biggest names, including top-ranked Rory McIlroy and third-ranked Luke Donald.
Darren Clarke pulled out of the running for the position, preferring to concentrate on his own game. That left Montgomerie to provide a late challenge to McGinley.
Montgomerie was captain for the 2010 match against the United States at Celtic Manor, Wales.
Europe will defend the trophy at Gleneagles, Scotland, after rallying past the U.S. in October at Medinah, near Chicago.
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