LONDON (Reuters) - IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde ruled herself out of the running for the job of European Commission president on Friday, saying she intended to complete her term in charge of the International Monetary Fund.
“I’m not a candidate and the reason I’m not a candidate is that I have a job,” Lagarde said in response to a question at a news conference in London. “It’s a job that I happen to think is rather important at the moment.”
EU leaders are expected to decide on their candidate for the presidency of the EU executive - a job that has a big say in policy affecting 500 million Europeans - by a summit at the end of June. But there is division over who should win the post.
Former Luxembourg prime minister Jean-Claude Juncker is considered the front-runner given the support he has from the European People’s Party, the EU’s largest center-right political grouping after last month’s European elections.
British Prime Minister David Cameron has opposed Juncker’s candidacy, seeing him as a supporter of a more federal EU which flies in the face of Cameron’s attempts to lessen the influence of Brussels over countries in the bloc.
Earlier this week, Reuters reported that German Chancellor Angela Merkel had asked France whether it would be willing to put forward Lagarde for the Commission presidency, according to two French sources briefed on the exchanges said. A German government spokesman denied the report.
So far, no candidates beyond those with a declared interest in the job have come forward.
Lagarde was asked at Friday’s news conference if she could rule out accepting the job if it was offered to her.
“I intend to complete my term,” she replied.
“I think that you know (the) bottom line. You are not going to extract anything else out of me because I think that is a very clear position on my part.”
Reporting by David Milliken and Costas Pitas, writing by William Schomberg; editing by Susan Thomas