EC President sets tasks for McGuinness in new financial portfolio

President of the European Commission (EC) Urusla von der Leyen has set out her objectives for the role of Ireland’s new commissioner in a mission letter to Mairéad McGuinness.

Former vice-president of the European Parliament, McGuinness was announced as Ireland’s new commissioner, replacing her Fine Gael party colleague, Phil Hogan who resigned from the position.

Hogan resigned following controversy over alleged breaches of public health guidelines relating to Covid-19 including his attendance at an Oireachtas Golf Society function in Co. Galway.

He had previously held the trade portfolio in the commission.

In a mission letter to Mairéad McGuinness, Ursula von der Leyen says she is entrusting the role of Commissioner for Financial Services, Financial Stability and the Capital Markets Union to the Louth native.

Objectives of the role

Von der Leyen outlines several aspects of the new portfolio that she wants McGuinness to focus on.

Some of them include supporting small business through policy and tackling money laundering.

“I want you to focus on completing the Banking Union, notably by finalising the common backstop to the Single Resolution Fund and agreeing on a European Deposit Insurance Scheme,” said von der Leyen.

“I want you to further develop the green financing strategy supporting the implementation of the European Green Deal.

You should work with our partners to lead global efforts to scale up sustainable financing.

“You should ensure a common approach with member states on cryptocurrencies to ensure we understand how to make the most of the opportunities they create and address the new risks they may pose.

The president also wants the Irish commissioner to develop a new private-public fund specialising in initial public offerings for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

McGuinness will have to go before a hearing in the European Parliament – as is standard practice for new commissioners – to examine her suitability for the role.

It’s anticipated this hearing will take place around mid October.

‘Strong and credible voice on agriculture’

The Irish Farmers’ Association has said that McGuinness will bring a “strong and credible voice on agriculture” to Brexit discussions.

McGuinness was elected as an MEP for the north-west constituency of Ireland and was a member of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development in the EU parliament.