Ireland interested in jobs or investment portfolio

Taoiseach’s remarks suggest Phil Hogan may be in line for portfolio other than agriculture

Ireland is interested in securing an EU commissionership related to jobs, investment and growth, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said this weekend, suggesting that Phil Hogan may be in the running for a portfolio other than agriculture when the European Commission portfolios are allocated as early as this week.

Speaking on his way into an EU summit in Brussels on Saturday Mr Kenny said he had raised Ireland's case with the incoming European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker at a pre-summit European People's Party meeting on Saturday. "Obviously [Mr Juncker] is going to make the appointments, and he made it clear at the last council meeting that this will be a commission appointed by him. I did say to him that Ireland would be interested in a commissionership that would be related to jobs, investment and growth," the Taoiseach said, adding that both he, and Ireland generally, have enjoyed strong working relations with Mr Juncker.

While the Government has been pressing the case for Ireland's claim to the agriculture directorate-general, other possible portfolios being mentioned include the digital economy. Spain and Romania are among the countries interested in the agriculture commissionership, though the current agriculture commissioner, Romanian Dacian Ciolos, is unlikely to secure a second term, and Spain is also hoping for the euro group president position.

Following the appointment of Donald Tusk as European Council president and Federica Mogherini as the EU's high representative for foreign affairs on Saturday, Jean-Claude Juncker is expected to move swiftly to allocate commission portfolios. A number of commissioner designates, including Irish nominee Phil Hogan, will meet Mr Juncker this week in Brussels.



Reports in the British media yesterday suggested that Britain’s nominee, Lord Hill, is in the running for a financial services portfolio, while France’s

Pierre Moscovici

is expected to receive the economics portfolio, despite opposition from Berlin.

But with Mr Juncker expected to significantly change the structure of the European Commission, there is little certainty over the precise allocation of portfolios.

Among the changes expected to be made by Mr Juncker is an elevation of the role of commission vice-presidents, whereby commission vice-presidents would be responsible for specific projects involving a range of directorate-generals.

Senior commission sources told The Irish Times that the climate change and environment portfolios may be merged, while new portfolios will also be created.

Given the low number of female commissioners, female nominees are almost certain to land some of the most high-profile commissionerships, such as competition or trade. Denmark is the latest country to nominate a female commissioner, with Danish prime minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt confirming the nomination of economy minister, Margrethe Vestager on Saturday, who could present a threat to Mr Moscovici's claim on the economics portfolio. The nomination brings to four the number of female nominees for commissionerships though a handful of countries including Belgium, the Netherlands and Cyprus have not yet named their commissioner.

Jean-Claude Juncker is expected to outline the formation of the commission early next week, with commissioners appearing before European parliament committees in Brussels in the third week of September.

Suzanne Lynch

Suzanne Lynch

Suzanne Lynch, a former Irish Times journalist, was Washington correspondent and, before that, Europe correspondent