Taoiseach to attend EU summit in Brussels

Friday 27 June 2014 15.19
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Mr Kenny said he had not yet decided on who Ireland's next commissioner would be
Mr Kenny said he had not yet decided on who Ireland's next commissioner would be
Jean-Claude Juncker finds himself on the brink of nomination through the so-called lead candidate process
Jean-Claude Juncker finds himself on the brink of nomination through the so-called lead candidate process
EU heads of government will attend the ceremonial Last Post at the Menin Gate
EU heads of government will attend the ceremonial Last Post at the Menin Gate

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said he spoke on Saturday to Jean-Claude Juncker, the former Luxembourg prime minister, who is expected to be nominated as the next European Commission President, about the composition of the next Commission.

Mr Kenny said he had not yet decided on who Ireland's next commissioner would be and he would not comment on names.

He said that once Mr Juncker was elected president he would discuss the various positions, including a number that would be "of interest to Ireland". 

Mr Kenny also said that a second European summit is expected to take place on 17 July, the day after the European Parliament is due to vote on the issue.

Mr Kenny was speaking in Kortrijk, Flanders at a meeting of centre right leaders, before joining 27 other heads of government in the city of Ypres, to mark the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War I.

The meeting is being overshadowed by British Prime Minister David Cameron's opposition to Mr Juncker, being nominated as the next president of the European Commission.

Usually the president is chosen by heads of government by consensus.

However, this time Mr Juncker finds himself on the brink of nomination through the so-called lead candidate process, which connected the results of the European elections to the top commission job.

Mr Cameron believes this is a power grab by the European Parliament, and he is determined to force a vote on the issue when leaders discuss the issue tomorrow.

It would be the first time a vote has been forced on the issue.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has sympathy for Mr Cameron, but she is under domestic pressure to back Mr Juncker.

This summit may be seen in years to come as a watershed in Britain's relationship with Europe.

The Government supports Mr Juncker as a candidate.

Mr Kenny is likely to push at tonight's dinner in Ypres for greater flexibility in the budget deficit rules, joining other leaders in arguing that job-friendly public investment projects should not be counted towards a country's debt and deficit.

EU leaders will gather in Ypres, a city made famous during the most intense trench battles of the First World War 100 years ago.

Canon fire and grinding trench warfare 100 years ago there pitched the world into a cataclysmic and industrial scale loss of life, unheard of in Europe until that point.