Hogan set for grilling from MEPs

Former minister Phil Hogan can expect a baptism of fire when he faces a grilling from members of the European Parliament this morning in Brussels on his suitability to become agriculture commissioner.

Hogan set for   grilling  from MEPs

MEPs were claiming their first victim last night when a majority wanted Britain’s Jonathan Hill to undergo a second hearing after he showed a poor grasp of his financial markets portfolio.

One of the first questions Mr Hogan will face in his three-hour long questioning will be on legal letters he sent to Dublin independent MEP, Nessa Childers, after she informed members about Mr Hogan’s actions in relation to the housing of a Traveller family.

Former chair of the agriculture committee, Italian Socialist, Paolo De Castro, will ask him if his intention was to interfere with the democratic right of MEPs to ask him questions.

The former environment minister has been trying to build bridges over the past few days as his threats of legal action against Ms Childers infuriated MEPs, who saw it as an attempt to intimidate one of their members.

A spokesperson for Ms Childers said Mr Hogan had not withdrawn the threat to pursue the matter in the courts and as a result, and on foot of legal advice, she had rejected his request to meet her. Mr Hogan wrote to the political groups in the parliament explaining his actions, and saying he did nothing wrong in his representing of his constituents’ concerns. However, he did not mention that he had written to his constituents afterwards about his action, but this letter too was circulating among MEPs.

Sinn Féin’s Matt Carthy and independent Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan are both due to question Mr Hogan and confirmed that at least one question will be in relation to his actions as environment minister. Fine Gael’s Mairéad McGuinness, who is also on the Agriculture Committee, will question him in connection with his agriculture portfolio.

The most vulnerable candidate at the moment is the Spanish nominee for Energy and Climate, Arias Canete, with more than a quarter of a million signatures handed into the parliament ahead of his hearing saying he should be rejected because of his family interest in the oil industry.

A member of the European People’s Party, if the parliament rejects him they are less likely to reject a second EPP member like Mr Hogan.

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