Irish nervy as Mandelson tipped for top job at WTO
Peter Mandelson, the bogeyman of Irish farmers during the summer of 2008, could be set to make a dramatic comeback.
The former European trade commissioner has been backed by British prime minister David Cameron to replace Pascal Lamy as the World Trade Organisation (WTO) director general next year.
Mr Mandelson, once dubbed the Prince of Darkness, was lambasted by Irish and other European farm organisations prior to the collapse of WTO talks in August 2008.
Farm leaders maintained that the concessions which Mandelson agreed to as Europe's trade commissioner would have had disastrous consequences for farmers across the EU.
The Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney, admitted last week that Mr Mandelson was among those mentioned to replace Mr Lamy.
However, Mr Coveney said Mr Mandelson would not be a popular choice given the poor relationship he had with Irish farmers in the past.
Some observers have claimed the British government's interest in Mr Mandelson was little more than politics; Mr Cameron having opposed the unofficial campaign of his predecessor Gordon Brown to fill the vacancy as head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
However, with French finance minister Christine Lagarde the current eurozone front-runner for the IMF post, an Anglo-French deal could see Mr Mandelson land the WTO job as part of any trade-off.