THE Taoiseach remained ambiguous yesterday about whether or not he would take the presidency of the EU Commission if it was offered to him.
Following the successful conclusion of the summit of EU leaders in Brussels, there were reports that French Jacques Chirac had made tenataive approaches to the Taoiseach about taking the post.
Sources said that renewed approaches would be made by the French to the Taoiseach in the coming week.
British sources have made it clear for some time that prime minister Tony Blair would back the Taoiseach if he wanted the job.
Buoyed up by his diplomatic triumph on the EU Constitution the Bertie Ahern will now make one final effort to find a new president of the European Commission before the Irish presidency ends in ten days time.
The president of the European Parliament, Pat Cox, is still in with an outside chance of getting the job but only if all of the current heads of government or senior Commissioners with government experience are ruled out.
Belgian Prime Minister, Guy Verhofstadt, and the current Commissioner for External Relations, Chris Patten, who were shot down at the Brussels summit are now out of the frame for good. The Prime Minister of Luxembourg, JeanClaude Juncker, probably had sufficient support but as he continues to insist that he doesn't want the job his name is also off the list.
The Danish prime minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, is interested in the job while the Portugese prime minister, Jose Manuel Durao Barroso, and his Dutch counterpart, Jan Peter Balkenede may also be in the mix. Balkenede celebrated the treaty deal by having a pint in Kitty O'Shea's pub in Brussels with Irish revellers while the Taoiseach and his team held a more sedat party.
Both the Dutch and the Portugese prime ministers are conservatives and as it is the turn of the right to hold the Commission Presidency either would fit the bill if they got the right amount of backing.
A number of other names including the Portugese Commissioner for Justice and Home Affairs, Antonio Vitterino, and Javier Solana the current Foreign Affairs representative of the EU have also been thrown into the mix.