Ireland Puts Forward Two Candidates to Replace Phil Hogan at EU

Ireland nominated a European parliament member and a former senior official at the European Investment Bank to replace Phil Hogan, who quit as trade commissioner after breaking coronavirus guidelines.

The Irish government will put forward European Parliament member Mairead McGuinness and Andrew McDowell, who has just finished a stint as EIB vice-president, as its next commissioner, it said Friday. European Commission president Ursula Von der Leyen demanded Ireland put forward a male and female candidate, and will choose the ultimate nominee. Interviews will take place early next week, Von der Leyen said.

Both candidates have shown they can “make a contribution in the most demanding roles,” the government said.

Ireland Puts Forward Two Candidates to Replace Phil Hogan at EU

Von der Leyen will likely reshuffle her team, meaning Ireland may well lose the influential trade role after Hogan stepped down amid outrage at his attendance at a golf dinner which breached public health guidelines. His resignation comes as the bloc grapples with its post-Brexit ties with the U.K., China’s commercial rise and a high-profile dispute with the U.S. over aircraft subsidies.

McGuinness, 61, is a former journalist and a member of the European Parliament since 2004, becoming first vice president of the institution in 2017. While a high-profile figure in Brussels, she failed to win election to the Irish parliament in 2007. Four years later, she missed out on her party’s nomination to be Ireland’s president, a largely ceremonial role.

An assured media performer, she regularly appears on international news outlets to explain Ireland’s Brexit position.

McDowell was an economic adviser to former Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny, who led the nation as it emerged from the economic crisis which saw it seek an international bailout. He then joined the EIB as vice president, finishing his 4-year term this month.

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In McGuinness’s favor, Von der Leyen demanded Ireland put forward male and female nominees. She pointed out that less than 20% of commissioners since 1958 have been women, adding we “want our fair share.” Including Von der Leyen, there are 12 female members of the Commission and 14 men.

The final nominee will face confirmation by the European Parliament.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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