Phil Hogan expected to get Europe nod

Brussels is expecting that Ireland will nominate Environment Minister Phil Hogan as its next commissioner and will seek the agriculture portfolio.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny is being asked to submit two names, one of them a woman, as the aim is to have an equal number of men and women in the next College of Commissioners.

However, Mr Kenny may be given a pass on this by the new president-designate of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker.

The Taoiseach has been one of the most steadfast supporters of the former Luxembourg prime minister over the past few months, and acted as intermediary with Britain’s David Cameron.

Sources say that Mr Hogan is interested in the agriculture portfolio which, despite recent reforms, still commands 40% of the EU budget.

Others, including Mr Kenny, have suggested that one of the weightily economic portfolios, such as trade, would be preferable, especially now that the trade agreement is being negotiated with the US.

While Britain would favour having the competition role, if it did not get this, they would support Ireland having it.

Nominations from member states are expected to begin flowing into Mr Juncker’s interim office, which officially begins working this week.

But member state leaders will be concentrating on finding the next president of the Council representing the member states and the foreign minister first.

These decisions will be made finally in Brussels when EU leaders meet on July 16. Mr Kenny is still in the frame for the Council job as the European People’s Party, of which Fine Gael is a member, despite getting the Commission presidency, would like this.

In that event of the job going to a man from the EPP, then the foreign role would go to a woman from the Socialist party. This would rule out Foreign Minister Eamon Gilmore.


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