Kenny gives Juncker strong backing for Euro post

Tuesday 27 May 2014 22.08
EU leaders will consider whether to back Jean-Claude Juncker tonight
EU leaders will consider whether to back Jean-Claude Juncker tonight

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has given his strong backing to former Luxembourg prime minister Jean Claude Junker becoming the next President of the European Commission.

He dismissed a Financial Times report which suggested that there was a blockage because the British and Hungarian Prime Ministers were opposed to him.

Mr Juncker is the nominee of the European People's Party, which Fine Gael is aligned with, and which secured most votes in the European elections at the weekend.

Mr Kenny said in Brussels tonight: "The EPP has a very clear decision made and a very strong candidate”.

He added the selection process for a new Commission President "should not be delayed too long - it's important that the process kick in."

Asked about Mr Cameron's position, the Taoiseach said he knew the "the Prime Minister has a very strong view." 

Mr Juncker has also received the support of group leaders of the European Parliament today.

Socialist group leader in parliament Hannes Swoboda called on EU leaders today to give Mr Juncker a clear mandate to start negotiations.

Mr Swoboda did, however, qualify his remarks, saying his group would support Mr Juncker only if his programme meets the needs and concerns of EU citizens.

EU leaders will consider whether to back Mr Juncker tonight.

Last night, French President Francois Hollande said he would be pressing for a renewed focus on job creation.

EU leaders will also calibrate their response to the weekend developments in Ukraine, which has included the election of a new president but also an upsurge in fighting in eastern cities such as Donetsk.