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Mairead McGuinness chosen as new European Commissioner for Financial Services as Ireland loses Trade portfolio

Ursula von der Leyen said that McGuinness has “significant political experience on EU issues”.

Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

EUROPEAN COMMISSION PRESIDENT Ursula von der Leyen has chosen Mairéad McGuinness as Ireland’s new EU Commissioner.

Ireland hasn’t retained the Trade portfolio however, and McGuinness will instead take the Financial Services and Financial Stability and Capital Markets Union portfolio.

Von der Leyen said that McGuinness has “significant political experience on EU issues”.

“This experience is crucial in carrying forward the EU’s Financial Sector policy agenda, and ensuring it supports and strengthens the Commission’s key priority, notably the twin green and digital transition,” von der Leyen said.

Valdis Dombrovskis, Latvia’s former Prime Minister and current Executive Vice President of the European Commission, will take the Trade portfolio, while remaining the Commission’s representative for the Eurogroup.

McGuinness’ selection will now be put to the European Council and European Parliament for final approval. 

McGuinness and Andrew McDowell were proposed as Ireland’s two nominees by Taoiseach Micheál Martin last Friday, after Phil Hogan resigned as EU Trade Commissioner following the golfgate controversy.

McGuinness is an MEP since 2004 for the Midlands-North West constituency, and First-Vice President of the European Parliament. McDowell is former vice president of the European Investment Bank who served as a special advisor to Enda Kenny. 

Von der Leyen, who interviewed both candidates yesterday, said both showed “great commitment to the European Union and to the function of Commissioner”.

She said they were “excellent candidates” that had significant experience of EU matters.

Reactions and congratulations

McGuinness said she was “honoured” to have been selected by the President of the European Commission as the Irish Commissioner-designate.

Speaking from Brussels, she thanked von der Leyen for placing her trust in her, as well as the Taoiseach, the Tánaiste, and Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan for her nomination.

The financial services portfolio cuts across all policy areas. It is fundamental to European citizens, businesses, SMEs, and how the EU recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic. The EU Green Deal will require sustainable finance to drive actions across all sectors of the economy.

“As an MEP for 16 years, I have seen at first-hand how the EU is a positive force for change. I have worked to strengthen cooperation between the EU institutions and to bring them closer to people.”

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“I will now focus on preparing for the European Parliament hearing and will not be making any further comment,” McGuinness said.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin lead congratulations to McGuinness, saying she had be appointed to”an important financial portfolio”.

It’s a great day for her and her family. I’ve no doubt whatsoever that she will serve with distinction and will play a key role in the work of the Commission

Tánaiste and Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar said it was “an excellent appointment for Ireland in an excellent portfolio”.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney, who was a strong contender as a possible Commissioner candidate at one stage, also congratulated McGuinness.

“Congratulations to Mairead McGuinness on becoming the new EU Commissioner with responsibility for Financial Services. She’ll do a great job,” he tweeted.

Fine Gael MEPs Seán Kelly, Deirdre Clune, Frances Fitzgerald and Maria Walsh also congratulated their colleague McGuinness on her new role.

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