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Leo Varadkar with Michel Barnier and Phil Hogan.
Leo Varadkar with Michel Barnier and Phil Hogan.

Leo Varadkar rules himself out of taking over EU Commissioner job

There is a lot of interest in the trade commissioner job – and the knock on vacancies that might arise.
Aug 27th 2020, 2:51 PM 30,082 54

TÁNAISTE LEO VARADKAR has ruled himself out of the EU Trade Commissioner job.

In Limerick today, Varadkar was asked if he is interested in the European Commission job.

Since Hogan’s resignation last night, attention has turned to who may take his place.

While there is no guarantee Ireland will keep the trade portfolio, there is speculation over who will be nominated.

The names being mentioned include Minister for Foreign Affairs and Defence Simon Coveney; Tánaiste Leo Varadkar; Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe; former Taoiseach Enda Kenny; David O’Sullivan, former EU Ambassador to the US; current MEP and former minister Frances Fitzgerald; Mairead McGuinness, a vice president of the European Parliament; and former minister Richard Bruton.

The Tánaiste told reporters today: 

“My intention is to continue to lead my party, to work hard in my job as Tánaiste and Minister of Trade, Enterprise and Employment, and become Taoiseach again in 2022.”

Coveney is tipped as the favourite to replace Hogan as Ireland’s EU Commissioner. 

Knock-on vacancies

Senior government sources have said there is a lot of interest in the job in Brussels, and also the possible knock-on vacancies such an appointment might create around the Cabinet table.

The President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen spoke to Taoiseach Micheál Martin on the phone today and conveyed the message that it is important to start the process and put forward the names promptly.

Martin said she will formally write to him later this evening on the process of putting two names forward. 

He said it is important that someone with a “very, very high calibre” will be nominated by the Irish government.

“The timeline is in the court of the Irish authorities,” a spokesperson for the president said today.

It is important that the president has a “strong team in place” that is “ready for action”, said the spokesperson.

She said it is important the Irish authorities come forward with the proposed names “as quickly as possible”.

Party leaders are due to meet to discuss the matter tomorrow afternoon before Cabinet.

Varadkar said today that he finds Hogan’s resignation regrettable, stating that he is a good colleague and a “very good friend”. 

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He said he reappointed him to his position because of the good work he had done in the past, however, he said the situation over the last number of days “developed as it did” and Hogan was given the opportunity to explain his whereabouts and his movements within Ireland. 

“It was the right decision in the end but of course lots of regrets,” he said.

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Christina Finn


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