Speculation is mounting tonight, Monday, July 8, that Fine Gael’s Phil Hogan will be put forward by the Government as Ireland’s nominee for the next European Commission.

AgriLand understands that the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, may announce that the Kilkenny native will be nominated for a second five-year term at a cabinet meeting in the capital tomorrow.

Although the politician has held the EU Commissionership for Agriculture and Rural Development since November 1, 2014, it is not yet clear whether he would potentially remain in the same portfolio.

It has been widely suggested in recent months that Commissioner Hogan could be in line to take the reins from Swedish politician, Cecilia Malmström, the current European Commissioner for Trade.

However, it will be up to the next president of the European Commission –  expected to be German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen who formally secured a nomination from the union’s leaders last week – to assign portfolios to the 28 commissioners, one from each member state.

Although a spokesperson for the Taoiseach stated to this publication tonight that “there is no memo regarding Ireland’s commissioner due before cabinet tomorrow”, a number of Government sources could not rule out the possibility of the looming decision being made over the next 24 hours.

Mercosur backlash

Over the last couple of weeks there has been much discussion and debate over Commissioner Hogan’s future career in Brussels – particularly in light of political agreement being reached on the draft EU-Mercosur trade deal after 20 years of negotiations.

Commissioner Hogan has been the subject of strong criticism from the farming community since the announcement of the draft deal which agrees to preferential tariff rate access for 99,000t of beef from Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay into the EU market over a five-year period.

However, under the deal, significant gains are expected in the EU car, car manufacturing, machinery, chemical and pharmaceutical areas.

The Taoiseach has stated that the Government will carry out a full economic assessment of the EU-Mercosur trade deal in a bid to establish the impact that it could potentially have on the Irish economy.

The draft deal would need to be rejected by a third of all member states in order to prevent it getting the green light.