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Tuesday 26 March 2019

Hogan says Brexit the reason for 'disproportionate' number of meetings with Irish farm groups

Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan. Photo: Getty Images
Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan. Photo: Getty Images
Claire Fox

Claire Fox

A new report highlighted how EU Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan carried out a “disproportionate” amount of meetings with Irish farm organisations and lobby groups since he began his role in 2014.

According to the Captured States: When EU Governments are a Channel for Corporate Interests report, carried out by NGO, Corporate Europe Observatory, it stated that Commissioner Hogan was among a range of commissioners who had a disproportionate number of meetings with lobby groups from their home countries.

Of Commissioner Hogan’s 102 corporate lobby encounters since December 2014, at least 29 were with Irish interests.

It showed that the Commissioner met with the IFA seven times, the ICMSA held four meetings and ICOS met with him three times over the period.

IBEC also met with Mr Hogan four times.

Commissioners such as Competition Commissioner Vestager had 59pc of lobby meetings with her native Danish lobby groups, while Climate Commissioner Canete had 37pc of his meetings with Spanish lobby groups.

The report stated that there is a “serious risk” that the commissioners “have prioritised lobby meetings with corporate interests from their home country”

“It is striking that for some, although not all commissioners, national corporate lobbies make up a disproportionately large number of meetings,” it said.

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A spokesperson for Commissioner Hogan defended his meetings with Irish lobby groups and cited the Brexit referendum in June 2016 as the reason for the high number of meetings as farmer organisations and lobby groups are concerned about the outcome.

 “As the Irish member of the College of Commissioners, it is not surprising that Commissioner Hogan receives representations on a wide range of EU-related issues from various sources in Ireland,” said the spokesperson.

“Since the Brexit referendum, there is understandable concern throughout Irish society and particularly among the business community about the consequences of Brexit, which may have contributed to the high number of representations from Ireland.”

Commissioner Hogan and his team have adopted a policy of being accessible to various interest groups, particularly in relation to his portfolio of Agriculture and Rural Development, not alone from Ireland, but right across the EU.

“Any lobby groups or lobbyists wishing to have access to the Commissioner, his cabinet or the services of the Directorate General for Agriculture & Rural Development (DG AGRI) are required to meet the requirements in place in relation to inclusion on the EU Transparency Register.”

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