The successful nomination of Phil Hogan as EU agriculture and rural affairs commissioner designate has been warmly welcomed by Mairead McGuinness, MEP and Vice President of the European Parliament who described it as “a real coup.”
“This is a really positive development for Ireland,” she said. “The agriculture policy of the EU accounts for almost 40pc of the entire EU budget. It is a crucial policy area and the Commission, with the Parliament and Council, will shape the future of European food, agriculture and rural development.
“In Phil Hogan we have someone who understands those issues innately and has the conviction and strength of character to fight for and promote those interests within Europe,” she said.
The MEP said there are several pressing issues to be dealt with, not least the immediate impact of the Russian ban, ongoing pressure on the EU budget, the mid-term review of the CAP and the negotiation of several trade agreements.
She said the EU and US negotiations on a trade and investment partnership offer great potential but there are also many challenges posed in the discussions.
“We need a Commissioner who is alert to these issues and who will drive the agenda for a fair and balanced agreement,” she said.
“Phil Hogan’s track record in delivering difficult policy issues will stand him well in the agriculture portfolio in the new Commission. “
The MEP said it is a challenging appointment but a great opportunity for Ireland to guide agriculture policy and to put food security to the fore.
She said the issue of relationships and power imbalance in the food supply chain must be tackled at EU level. The MEP had written to the Commission President, Jean Claude Juncker, urging him to expand the role of the Agriculture Commissioner to include supply chain issues and problems, including the ongoing crisis in the Irish beef market.
The hearings begin in late September and all issues will be debated with Commissioner designate Hogan.
“I look forward to those hearings and to the new Commission taking up office on November 1,” McGuinness said.