Monday 11 December 2017

Juncker best candidate for EU role, says Kenny

Taoiseach Enda Kenny
Taoiseach Enda Kenny
Daniel McConnell

Daniel McConnell

TAOISEACH Enda Kenny has poured cold water on speculation linking him with a €250,000 top EU post ahead of this week's crucial Brussels summit.

Crucially, however, he did not address what he would do should his preferred candidate, Jean-Claude Juncker, fail to get elected to the position of European Commission president.

British Prime Minister David Cameron is opposed to Mr Juncker's candidacy and has threatened to force a vote on the matter.

Mr Kenny, speaking in the Dail ahead of the summit, said he expected Mr Juncker to be confirmed as the nominee and that he would go on to be endorsed as president of the new Commission by the European Parliament.

"I am, of course, acutely aware of the reservations that some member states, most notably our partners in the UK, have expressed regarding the nomination process. I am confident that Mr Juncker has both the qualities and experience required for the job," he said.

Responding to Mr Kenny, Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin said it was absurd to claim that Mr Juncker was somehow the democratic choice of the people of Europe to head the European Commission.

"Jean-Claude Junker was president of the Euro group. He was frequently a loud public advocate for the failed policies which caused so much harm," he said.

Mr Kenny made no mention of Ireland's ongoing claim for debt relief for bailing out banks between 2008 and 2011. Mr Martin asked the Taoiseach had he sought any concession from Mr Juncker in return for his support.

Elsewhere, German Chancellor Angela Merkel made it clear that Mr Cameron would fail if it tried to stop the nomination of Mr Juncker as the next head of the European Commission.

"It is no tragedy if we end up voting with only a qualified majority," Ms Merkel told Parliament, referring to the candidacy of Mr Juncker, the former prime minister of Luxembourg.

Mr Juncker is the nominee of the European People's Party of which Fine Gael is a member.

Irish Independent

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