Pressure mounting on Irish government to nominate female candidate for EU trade post

European Parliament vice-president Mairead McGuinness is seen as ‘strong and safe’ replacement for Phil Hogan by MEPs.
European Parliament Audiovisual

By Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at the Parliament Magazine

31 Aug 2020

Senior MEP Mairead McGuinness has emerged as a leading candidate to replace Phil Hogan as Ireland’s EU commissioner.

Hogan quit last week following controversy over alleged breaches of COVID-19 guidelines during a trip to his native Ireland. His decision has led to speculation about who is likely to succeed him with McGuinness, a European Parliament vice-president, put forward by some as a suitable choice.

Among those pushing for her to be nominated is former UK Liberal MEP Edward McMillan-Scott, a former vice president of the Parliament.

He told this website, “Mairead McGuinness would be an excellent successor, with her background in agricultural economics, rural politics, close cross-frontier experience, the media and as a distinguished European political experience as an internationalist.”

“Now is the time to present a woman as the next Irish commissioner” Spanish MEP Iratxe García Pérez

McMillan-Scott also described Hogan’s departure as “a loss to the European Commission's trade portfolio and also to the process of negotiating Brexit, an outcome widely recognised as a disaster for the UK and unhelpful to European cooperation within rising international tension.”

Hogan’s resignation, less than a year into his term as trade commissioner, means Ireland will have to nominate a new representative. It may not retain the same brief if Commission president Ursula von der Leyen opts to reshuffle her team.

Late last week, The Parliament Magazine canvassed the views of several MEPs and others on Hogan’s departure and who might replace him.

We also asked our readers in a poll who they think the next commissioner should be. Mairead McGuinness came out as the top choice with more than 45 percent of the vote.

McGuinness is seen by many as a strong candidate, given she is a vice president of the centre-right European People’s Party group in the European Parliament and has plenty Brexit experience.

Spanish MEP Iratxe García Pérez, the Socialist group leader in the Parliament, is another fan of McGuinness and said, “Now is the time to present a woman as the next Irish commissioner.”

García Pérez ‘s socialist colleague Belgian MEP, Kathleen Van Brempt agrees, saying, “With Brexit, mounting trade tensions with the US and China, the urgent need to reform the WTO, and the epochal task of making the Green Deal a reality, we need a strong and safe hand at the trade helm to steer Europe through these turbulent waters.”

“We expect the Irish government to present us with a competent female candidate as the next Irish commissioner.”

Irish GUE MEP Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan says the Irish government should choose “a more subtle personality” to replace Hogan as commissioner and suggested that a politically Independent person would best fulfil the role.

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