Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said he is “flattered” to be linked to the role of the new president of the European Commission but that he plans to stay put in Ireland as Taoiseach.
Answering questions about international reports he is being touted to succeed EC president Jean-Claude Juncker, Mr Varadkar also confirmed the Cabinet will decide who to propose as Ireland's own commissioner for the new European Commission once the process of appointing a president is complete. EU leaders will hold another summit in Brussels this weekend to decide on the top role.
There is continued speculation as to who will be chosen by member state leaders as the new head of the commission, especially with Brexit still firmly on the agenda.
The Financial Times reported this week that another candidate, as opposed to Bavarian MEP Manfred Weber, may be considered for the top job. Choices to replace him come from within the top ranks of the European People's Party of which Fine Gael is a member. Figures being put forth as potential successor's to Mr Juncker include Brexit negotiator and former French MEP Michel Barnier, the head of International Monetary Fund Christine Lagarde, Bulgarian economist Kristalina Georgieva and former Finish prime minister Alexander Stubb as well as Taoiseach Mr Varadkar among others. It was reported that selecting Mr Varadkar for the job would be a strong sign of EU resolve, that Ireland was a financial crisis success story but entrusting an Irishman with the Brexit talks may be worrying.
Asked yesterday about the potential new role, Mr Varadkar responded: “I'm flattered to be considered for the new position of president but I have a job.
The Irish Examiner recently reported Mr Varadkar was likely to propose that Irish commissioner Phil Hogan be returned to the commission for a second term. Mr Varadkar said a decision on it would be agreed by Cabinet and could take place as early as next week if EU leaders, at the weekend, agree on a new president.
“When it comes to appointing our member in the EU commission, that will be done in consultation with the Cabinet once there is a president in place," explained Mr Varadkar.
Mr Hogan is the current Agriculture Commissioner and the former Fine Gael minister has made it known he would like to stay on with the commission, a role that would continue until 2024 on a yearly salary of €270,000, with generous pension entitlements.