Monday 14 October 2019

Varadkar admits he is 'flattered' but rules out seeking top EU job

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photo: Damien Eagers/INM
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photo: Damien Eagers/INM
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has declared himself flattered but disinterested in taking over from Jean Claude Juncker as president of the European Commission.

Mr Varadkar’s name has been mentioned in Brussels as a potential compromise candidate for the top job.

The European People’s Party, of which Fine Gael is a member, expects to hold the position but their current nominee Manfred Weber is unlikely to gain enough support.

A number of highly-respected media outlets, including the Financial Times and Politico, have named the Taoiseach as somebody who could command support.

The Financial Times listed Mr Varadkar alongside the EU’s Brexit Chief Michel Barnier, head of the IMF Christine Lagarde and chief executive of the World Bank Kristalina Georgieva.

It reported today that the Irish leader would represent “a true generational change”.

“He is 40 years old, half Indian and proudly gay. But his true appeal also stems from his being a convention choice: a promising EPP leader from a small eurozone country at the summit table.”

However, it also notes that entrusting an Irish person with the Brexit talks would “worry some European capitals”.

“Mr Varadkar also remains untested; he is socially awkward, has served as Taoiseach for just two years and has never won an election,” the Financial Times adds.

EU leaders will meet again on Sunday to seek agreement on who should inherit the bloc's top jobs after failing to do last week. They are also looking for somebody to replace Donald Tusk as President of the European Council.

Asked about allowing his name into the mix today, Mr Varadkar told reporters: “"I'm flattered to be considered for the position of EU Commission President but I have a job, it's as Taoiseach of Ireland.

“I'm loving the job and am only getting started, I think so I have no plans for a career change at this stage," he said.

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