EU leaders fail to reach deal on top appointments

Thursday 17 July 2014 00.15
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Enda Kenny said 'I still have enough on my plate'
Enda Kenny said 'I still have enough on my plate'
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said agreement on the jobs may not be possible tonight
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said agreement on the jobs may not be possible tonight

European Union leaders have failed to agree on who should take on the top jobs in the union for the next five years.

The leaders of the 28 nations have postponed the decision until they meet again at the end of August.

The summit in Brussels was called to appoint a new foreign affairs chief, as well as the president of the European Council, which sets overall policy.

The leaders were deadlocked over opposition to Italian Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini's candidacy for the role of foreign policy chief.

There were also demands by central and eastern European countries for the job to go to someone from their region.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny earlier said there had been a great deal of discussion about who should succeed Catherine Ashton when she steps down.

Mr Kenny said there was a difference of opinion between those who wanted to just appoint the next high representative and others who wanted all posts to be signed off.

Asked if he might take one of the top EU jobs, Mr Kenny said: "I have already made the point very clearly - I still have enough on my plate to continue to sort out our public finances and get our country working."

When questioned about who Ireland would like to see as high commissioner, Mr Kenny said: "We don't have a very fixed position on this."

The Taoiseach said he did not get the chance to talk to the incoming President of the European Commission, Jean Claude Juncker, about what portfolio Ireland will be given.

Ms Mogherini, 41, began the day as front-runner but Poland and Baltic states voiced misgivings about her inexperience and her emollient attitude towards Russia since its annexation of Crimea in March.

Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite told reporters: "I will support a person with experience in foreign affairs and a person who is neutral and at least reflects all opinions of all member states on the conflict between Russia and Ukraine and I will not support a person who is pro-Kremlin."

That irked Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, who said: "This is not about questioning one position or another, it's questioning the respect that is due to all member states, and in particular to a founding member."

Alternatives to Ms Mogherini could include outgoing Bulgarian commissioner Kristalina Georgieva, Polish foreign minister Radoslaw Sikorski or Dutch foreign minister Frans Timmermans.

Leaders must also nominate a new president of the European Council, who represents the interests of EU heads of government.

Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt is currently the front runner to succeed Herman Van Rompuy.

Keywords: european union