Friday 23 August 2019

Gender threat to Hogan's Brussels role dismissed

EU Commission president-elect wants two names for 50-50 split

High hopes: Phil Hogan is hoping for a “substantial economic portfolio”. Photo: Reuters
High hopes: Phil Hogan is hoping for a “substantial economic portfolio”. Photo: Reuters
Hugh O'Connell

Hugh O'Connell

The Government is unlikely to nominate a second candidate for the European Commission despite the prospect being raised by the incoming EC president.

A day after Phil Hogan was nominated for a second term as Ireland's EU commissioner, president-elect Ursula von der Leyen said she wanted a 50-50 gender split.

Ms Von der Leyen told Renew Europe MEPs - the EU's liberal alliance - she would ask each member state to nominate two candidates, one male and one female.

But Irish sources in the European Commission believe it is unlikely to affect Mr Hogan given he is a sitting commissioner being proposed for another five-year term.

The Government is also standing by Mr Hogan and a source pointed out that it is ultimately up to member states who they nominate.

The matter is likely to be discussed between the Taoiseach and Ms Von der Leyen in the coming days.

But two commission sources argued Ms Von der Leyen's remarks were more likely to be aimed at member states sending new candidates and those who have not yet nominated anyone.

Some 18 out of 27 member states have already formally nominated or are likely to nominate their candidates for the commission, of which nine are men and nine are women.

"The pressure will be on the remaining nine to come up with women candidates," one source said.

Mr Hogan is said to be relaxed about his position. Asked about Ms Von der Leyen's remarks yesterday, he told RTÉ's 'Today with Seán O'Rourke': "I'm glad to be one of the names that actually has been put forward anyway and I hope I don't have to go through some of the hoops that I did on the last occasion about my gender."

His spokesman did not wish to add to those remarks when contacted.

Mr Hogan also told RTÉ he hoped for a "substantial economic portfolio". He was nominated for a second term on Tuesday despite some criticism from within Fine Gael following the recent EU-Mercosur trade deal which has angered beef farmers.

Despite many in Fine Gael backing Mr Hogan, one senior party figure said privately: "I think it's a mistake and a missed opportunity.

"It will be seen as a slap in the face to rural Ireland and to the beef sector."

Irish Independent

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