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Leo Varadkar with Charles Michel Brian Lawless/PA
job watch

Taoiseach dismisses speculation his name could be put forward for European Council president

‘I don’t think I’d be even on the shortlist, even if I wanted to be,’ the Taoiseach said.

TAOISEACH LEO VARADKAR has dismissed speculation that his name could be put forward to become the next president of the European Council after the surprise resignation of Charles Michel.

The former prime minister of Belgium announced yesterday that he would stand as a candidate in the European Parliament elections in June after four years in the key EU job.

He will step down as chairman of the 27 heads of EU governments in July, prompting speculation on who will replace him.

The Irish Times reported that among the names of current and former leaders who could take the job were Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Tánaiste Micheál Martin.

However, Varadkar said in response yesterday: “I was flattered to read that article but it’s not the case.”

He said he expects that European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who, like Varadkar, is a member of the European People’s Party, will be reappointed to her role as the head of the Commission. If the Commission president position is held by the EPP, the president of the European Council will have to come from a different political grouping.

“I don’t think I’d be even on the shortlist, even if I wanted to be,” Varadkar said.

Speaking about Micheál Martin’s prospects, he said: “As far as I know, it’s his intention to run for election and continue to lead his party, and hopefully form another government with Fine Gael, but I think Micheál can speak for himself.”

Before Christmas, Martin said he was “very focused” on his job as a minister and as leader of Fianna Fáil ahead of local and European elections in 2024.

He said his aim was to “keep your feet on the ground” despite speculation of a job in Europe.

It comes after Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe’s name was linked to a possible role at the International Monetary Fund, as its managing director Kristalina Georgieva’s tenure draws to an end this year.

Finance Minister Michael McGrath’s name is also in the mix as Ireland’s next EU commissioner nominee.

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