Politics

Saturday 26 July 2014

British pushing for Kenny to take job as Euro chief

Fionnan Sheahan and Colm Kelpie

Published 21/06/2014|02:30

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British prime minister David Cameron regards Mr Kenny as an alternative candidate to former Luxembourg PM Jean-Claude Juncker
British prime minister David Cameron regards Mr Kenny as an alternative candidate to former Luxembourg PM Jean-Claude Juncker

SENIOR figures in the British government are still actively trying to find out if Taoiseach Enda Kenny will put his name forward for President of the European Commission, the Irish Independent has learned.

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British prime minister David Cameron regards Mr Kenny as an alternative candidate to former Luxembourg PM Jean-Claude Juncker.

Mr Kenny is also viewed as having support from a number of Eastern and Central European countries.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel also rates Mr Kenny, but she is pushing Mr Juncker for the post.

Mr Cameron has been attempting to block Mr Juncker as he regards him as too old and too much of a European federalist.

Showdown

Senior government sources say figures at the "highest levels in the British government" have discussed the European Commission presidency with their Irish counterparts.

"There have been a number of very direct conversations. They are campaigning very aggressively against the prospect of appointing Juncker. They want to open up the field."

The appointment of the European Commission president is expected to be resolved at an EU summit in Brussels next week.

"Juncker seems the most likely but the showdown will come next week and Cameron will have to back down. He is still looking for compromises," a source said.

Among the names being mentioned alongside Mr Kenny are Danish prime minister Helle Thorning Schmidt, former Belgian prime minister Guy Verhofstadt and IMF chief executive Christine Lagarde.

Ms Merkel has been pressing fellow EU leaders to back Mr Juncker, the official candidate of the European People's Party (EPP).

Ms Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) are members of the EPP, along with Fine Gael.

She raised doubts about her own commitment to Mr Juncker recently by suggesting in Brussels that the top Commission job could be done by others.

But Ms Merkel has since stepped up her verbal support. She said yesterday that she does not believe the British would change their mind about Mr Juncker.

"I think Britain has made its position clear. And I don't think that position will change," she said.

In Luxembourg yesterday, Finance Minister Michael Noonan backed Mr Juncker's campaign for the European Commission presidency – but stopped short of saying he was the right man for the job.

Mr Juncker served as president of the eurogroup at the height of the financial crisis and Mr Noonan would have had close dealing with him.

Asked if the former Luxembourg PM was the right candidate for the job, he said: "You could say that about anybody that's elected.

"He was the selected candidate by vote in Dublin. He defeated Michel Barnier and that's the position."

Irish Independent

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