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Mairead McGuinness confirmed as Ireland's new EU Commissioner

The Fine Gael MEP will replace Phil Hogan, who resigned in the wake of the Golfgate scandal.

Image: European Commission

Updated Oct 7th 2020, 1:34 PM

FINE GAEL MEP Mairead McGuinness has been confirmed as Ireland’s new EU Commissioner today.

The European Parliament this afternoon confirmed that McGuinness had been approved, with 583 votes in favour of her appointment and just 75 against.  

The outgoing EU Vice-President will take over the financial services and financial stability portfolio.

The European Council must still approve the appointment, but this is expected to happen without incident. In a statement released after the vote, McGuinness said that “today was an important step in the nomination process”.

“I expect to hit ground running early next week,” she said, adding that advancing the banking union, the capital markets union and sustainable finance would be a big part of her brief.

“Tackling money laundering will also be a core part of the work programme I will be dealing with, as well as regulating the new cryptocurrencies and ensuring consumer protection,” McGuinness added.

 McGuinness will replace Phil Hogan as Ireland’s EU Commissioner, after he resigned from his role as Trade Commissioner in August in the wake of the Golfgate scandal.

The Irish government proposed McGuinness and Andrew McDowell, former vice president of the European Investment Bank, as its two candidates to succeed Hogan.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen chose McGuinness for the role last month after interviewing both candidates.

Tax

McGuinness was questioned by her MEP colleagues at a hearing last week.

During the three-hour hearing, McGuinness was asked repeatedly about her stance on taxation. This is the most tense part of Ireland’s relationship with the EU; its ‘sweetheart’ low tax rate for multinational corporations.

Her response was that she would take her “national hat off at the door”, and will be acting on behalf of the European Commission if she is approved for the role.

McGuinness said she understands that tax is a “big issue” for EU citizens, and “should be fair and efficient”.

Sinn Féin MEP Chris MacManus last week said McGuinness’ likely appointment as Commissioner for Financial Services will not curtail the activities of profit-driven banks, vulture funds and insurance companies.

“The status quo will be maintained, which is a bad blow to many Irish families and businesses who need the most help in these extraordinary times” MacManus said.

Speaking to EuroParlRadio this morning, Green Party MEP Grace O’Sullivan confirmed that the majority of Green MEPs would vote in favour of McGuinness’ appointment.

“I think it’s a good thing for Ireland. It’s good to have a woman who has huge experience in the European Parliament so she knows how the institutes operate here in Europe,” O’Sullivan said.

Fine Gael MEPs Seán Kelly, Deirdre Clune, Frances Fitzgerald and Maria Walsh welcomed the European Parliament vote in favour of McGuinness.

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“Today’s vote is a strong endorsement of our colleague Mairead McGuinness as Ireland’s EU Commissioner and shows the depth of respect the European Parliament has for her work ethic and professionalism,” Kelly said.

McGuinness has been an MEP since 2004 for the Midlands-North West constituency, and has been Parliament Vice-President since 2014.

With reporting from Gráinne Ní Aodha

About the author:

Órla Ryan

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