independent

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Kenny again linked to EU Presidency despite denials

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron
Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron

TAOISEACH Enda Kenny is again being linked with a top post in the EU coming up later this year.

Despite appearing to rule himself out of contention for a move to Brussels, Mr Kenny's name is again being associated with the European Commission presidency.

The re-emergence of speculation in Europe about Mr Kenny's future comes ahead of the Fine Gael Ard Fheis today and next week's congress of the party's EU grouping, the European People's Party, in Dublin.

The event will be attended by several EU leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The Taoiseach is reportedly in the top three choices of British Prime Minister David Cameron.

Mr Cameron was expected to discuss the successor to current Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso at a lunch with the German Chancellor in Downing Street yesterday.

Mr Kenny is listed with Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning Schmidt and IMF managing director Christine Lagarde as candidates Mr Cameron favours. Ms Merkel is also known to hold the Taoiseach in high regard.

Although listing Mr Kenny as a contender, the 'Financial Times' acknowledged he has not suggested he would be available to make the move.

"The Irish prime minister led his country out of its bailout and would be a symbol of European recovery. He says he does not want to be European Commission president, but David Cameron would be glad if he changed his mind. The reform-minded, free trader and fiscal disciplinarian could be acceptable to Ms Merkel too," the newspaper said.

But Mr Kenny's officials reiterated the Taoiseach's statement ruling himself out for the post.

His spokesman pointed to Mr Kenny's statement at the World Economic Forum in Davos last month, where he brushed aside speculation that he would take a top EU job – and insisted he wants to lead Ireland for a second five-year term.

"The answer is the same. He wants to get Ireland back working," the spokesman said.

In his Davos comments, Mr Kenny said he remains focused on fixing the Irish economy, which still remains fragile, and he is determined to get EU help with the legacy of bank debt.

He dismissed ongoing rumours linking him to one or other of two top Brussels jobs due to fall vacant this summer – the heads of the EU Commission and the EU Council.

Mr Kenny said it was his ambition to get Fine Gael re-elected to government.

"The mandate given to me was to take our country out of an unholy economic mess that we had inherited and that mandate was to sort out our public finances and get our country working," he said.

"I'm very happy that our people have moved to the point where we have a clear plan and plan to exit the bailout. We now have a clear plan and strategy to follow through on that with the publication of the Medium Term Economic Strategy.

"That's my mandate. That's the trust that people placed on us and that's what we've got to do."

Irish Independent

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