Leo Varadkar plays down speculation that his name is in the hat for top EU job

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

Leo Varadkar with Charles Michel
Leo Varadkar with Charles Michel Leo Varadkar with Charles Michel (Brian Lawless/PA)

Irish premier 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 on Tuesday 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.

Among the names of current and former premiers who could take the job are Ireland’s two most senior politicians, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Foreign Affairs minister Micheal Martin, according to the Irish Times.

“I was flattered to read that article but it’s not the case,” Mr Varadkar said in response on Tuesday.

“My anticipation is that President (Ursula) von der Leyen will be reappointed to the position as president of the (European) Commission.

“That’s by no means guaranteed but if she goes again, I would certainly anticipate that she’d be reappointed and, certainly in my case, that would mean that the EPP (European People’s Party) position, if you like, is gone.”

If the EC president position was held by the EPP, the president of the European Council would have to come from a different political grouping.

Micheal Martin
Micheal Martin Micheal Martin (Niall Carson/PA)

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

Speaking about Tanaiste and Fianna Fail leader Mr 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 Micheal can speak for himself.”

Before Christmas, Mr Martin said he was “very focused” on his job as a minister and as leader of Fianna Fail 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.