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Wednesday 13 December 2017

Enda Kenny “flattered” with EU job link, but rules out move

Taoiseach Enda Kenny
Taoiseach Enda Kenny

Fionnan Sheahan, Group Political Editor in Brussels

TAOISEACH Enda Kenny says he’d be “flattered” to be asked to take up a top EU job next year.

But Mr Kenny is ruling himself out of taking up a position as head of the European Commission or European Council in 2014.

The Taoiseach says his intention is to lead Fine Gael into the next general election.

Mr Kenny is meeting with leaders of his party’s EU grouping, the European People’s Party, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Brussels this afternoon.

He is being linked with the powerful positions in Europe next year.

Chancellor Angela Merkel is believed to have him on her shortlist for a post.

The EPP is likely to get one of the two posts when they are up for grabs next year.

The leaders will discuss who they are putting forward as its leader in the European elections, with that individual then a frontrunner to secure a post.

But Mr Kenny said he will lead his party into the next general election.

“In respect of the mandate given to me, I am honoured and privileged to be elected Taoiseach to have the largest majority of any government in the history of the State, but also with an unprecedented economic challenge facing us. And it is my intention to deal with that and to lead Fine Gael into the next general election,” he said.

“I’d be flattered to be talked of in those terms but my job is here,” he added.

EU diplomats based in Dublin have been asking officials in Government Buildings if Mr Kenny was interested in taking a top post in Brussels next year.

The success of Ireland’s EU Presidency has put Mr Kenny at the centre of early speculation about the appointments of the head of the European Commission or European Council.

Last month, the renowned French daily newspaper, Le Monde, said Mr Kenny was one of two European leaders "discreetly positioned'' in race to be next European Commission President.

Over recent months, when Ambassadors from EU countries are attending meetings, they have asked bemused civil servants if Mr Kenny intends to put himself forward.

The Taoiseach and his leadership style are well known to many EU leaders as he has been attending EPP meetings for over a decade.

He ticks a lot of boxes as someone who comes from a small country and having an understanding of countries in economic difficulties.

Mr Kenny is likely to come under increased scrutiny over the coming months, particularly when the EPP Congress, which will be attended by Chancellor Merkel, is held in the National Convention Centre in Dublin in February, ahead of the European elections.

Press Association

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