Tongues have been wagging in Brussels over a potential socialist bid to replace Donald Tusk as President of the European Council when his term expires in May.

But of the potential replacements being mentioned so far, the one that has surprised people the most is Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.

His spokesman was quick to nip the speculation in the bud. “This is news to us. Joseph Muscat is very happy as Prime Minister of Malta and intends to keep doing his job.”

Dr Muscat’s name first came up in a Politico article several weeks ago, in which unnamed sources were quoted saying the socialists were upping their lobbying for one of their own to replace Mr Tusk.

Few potential socialist candidates

There are few potential socialist candidates for the job. The article said Dr Muscat was being considered by the socialists along with outgoing French President Francois Hollande and former Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt.

Dr Muscat’s name was mentioned as late as last week among MEPs. Serious doubts were voiced, however, over such an influential position being entrusted to someone from a small country.

None of the EU’s three main institutions, the Council, Commission and Parliament, are led by socialists but by members of the European People’s Party, the main centre-right political grouping in Europe.

With Mr Tusk’s term ending soon, socialists are lobbying to keep him out of a second term.

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