Phil Hogan set for influential EU trade portfolio

EU Commissioner Phil Hogan. Photo: Reuters
EU Commissioner Phil Hogan. Photo: Reuters

Kevin Doyle and Ciaran Moran

IRELAND’S nominee to the European Commission, Phil Hogan, appears set to secure the powerful trade portfolio next week.

Two sources have told that the former Fine Gael minister will be appointed Trade Commissioner on Tuesday.

It will make him a “central player” in any future talks on a free trade agreement between the UK and the EU.

Mr Hogan has been Agriculture Commissioner for the past five years and was recently nominated for a second term in Brussels by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

Incoming President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leydon confirmed today that she has received names from all EU Member States and will announce “a well-balanced college”.

The trade portfolio is one of the most sought after positions in Europe. The office-holder is responsible for representing the EU at the World Trade Organisation and other international forums.

And while they will not directly head up trade negotiations with the UK after Brexit, sources say the person will be highly influential in the process.

Regardless of whether or not there is a Brexit deal, the EU expects that talks on new trading arrangements will begin at some stage.

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The Irish government has made no secret of the fact it was seeking a significant job for Mr Hogan in the wake of Brexit.

Commissioners are expected to put the wider EU project to the forefront of their work rather than domestic interests. However, in recent years it has also been accepted that they can reflect the view of their home country.

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