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Saturday 23 August 2014

David Cameron hopes Kenny will still go for EU job

Niall O'Connor

Published 23/06/2014 | 02:30

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UK Prime Minister David Cameron
UK Prime Minister David Cameron
Jean-Claude Juncker
Jean-Claude Juncker

BRITISH Prime Minister David Cameron is refusing to give up hope that Enda Kenny will change his mind over becoming the next head of the European Commission.

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The Taoiseach last night moved to quell speculation around himself by saying he sees his future in Ireland.

He said he does not see "any circumstance" where Jean-Claude Juncker will not become the President of the Commission. However, he stopped short of saying that he has no interest in the job.

And his name is still being discussed as a compromise candidate ahead of a make-or-break vote on Mr Juncker's candidacy.

Mr Cameron is preparing to force an unprecedented vote on the position this week in a move that will cause deep tensions within the EU.

The issue is due to come to a head at an EU summit in Brussels on Friday, which will be attended by the 28 heads of state, including the Taoiseach.

A source at Number 10 Downing Street told the Irish Independent that Mr Cameron sees a "number of individuals as being better suited to the job than Mr Juncker".

Mr Kenny is thought to be near the top of that list.

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

Mr Juncker was nominated by the European People’s Party of which Fine Gael is a member.

But Mr Cameron has vowed to “fight this right to the very end” to stop Mr Juncker’s appointment to the job, which comes with a salary of over €300,000.

Mr Juncker is viewed as old-fashioned.

A source in Mr Cameron’s Conservative Party confirmed that he will intensify his attempts to block Mr Juncker’s election bid during a meeting with European Council President Herman Von Rompuy due to be held today.

“The prime minister is seeking a consensus candidate, his opposition to Mr Juncker’s bid is not letting up,” a source said.

The Taoiseach was again yesterday forced to distance himself from the job, which is held by former Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Manuel Barosso.

Mr Kenny, who is popular with Central and Eastern European member states, insisted that Mr Juncker will get the job despite the strong opposition.

On RTE's ‘The Meaning of Life with Gay Byrne', he said he “has a job to do” at home.

“Obviously we have a process at European level. Next week, I expect that the EPP nominee Jean Claude Juncker will be nominated. I expect he will be appointed president,” he said.

Asked if his position would change if he came under pressure from his EU counterparts, Mr Kenny replied: “Where would the pressure come from? I have a job to do here, and happy and privileged to do that job as Taoiseach.

“Clearly, my job is here in Ireland. I don't see any circumstance in which Jean Claude Juncker will not become the president of the Commission.”

Irish Independent

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