Leaders are currently debating who should take over the top posts at the EU following last month’s parliamentary elections, which saw Italy’s Democratic Party (PD) become Europe’s largest centre-left party.
Federica Mogherini, a PD politician and a cabinet minister since February, has been tipped to take over from Ashton as the high representative for foreign affairs and security policy.
She was described as “without doubt a good candidate” by Frans Timmermans, the Netherlands’ foreign minister, Il Sole 24 Ore reported.
Both the parties of Timmermans and Mogherini are part of the European Parliament’s Social Democrats bloc, which came a close second to the Christian Democrats in the recent elections.
According to an Italian official, the Social Democrats are pushing to take over both the foreign affairs post and the president of the European Council position, currently held by Herman Van Rompuy.
“We strongly believe that a Social Democrat should be named high representative and that also the presidency of the council should go the European Socialists,” the official, said to be close to Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, told the Financial Times.
Mogherini is, however, keeping her cards close to her chest. When pushed by journalists in Luxembourg on Monday to discuss her possible candidacy, the Italian foreign minister would neither confirm or deny the rumours.
“It’s a hypothesis,” she was quoted in Rai News as saying.