Phil Hogan confirms he is weighing bid to become WTO chief

Most EU member states favour picking one unity nominee who bloc would then support

Ireland's EU Commissioner Phil Hogan has publicly confirmed he is considering putting himself forward as a candidate to be the next director-general of the World Trade Organization.

Mr Hogan confirmed he had his eye on the job, as first reported by The Irish Times, following a video conference of trade ministers from member states of the European Union, at which the vacancy was discussed.

“Certainly I am exploring the option of being a candidate for the director-general of the WTO,” the trade commissioner told reporters.

“I think that there is an important amount of work to be done to reform the organization, to make it more effective and efficient, but also to deal with many of the trade issues that are bedevilling the international community now arising from Covid-19.”

A majority of EU member states favour picking one unity nominee who the bloc as a whole would throw its support behind, and hope to make a quick decision so that the post can be filled quickly after it becomes vacant in September. Nominations close on July 8th.

Mr Hogan said he had discussed the issue with his counterpart, United States trade representative Robert Lighthizer, "some time ago", and that the US favoured a candidate from a "developed country" but would not make a decision until a list of candidates was known.

The vacancy arose following the shock early resignation of WTO director-general Roberto Azevêdo, amid global economic turmoil and after a difficult stand-off with Washington.

If Mr Hogan is successful in his bid and leaves his current position, Ireland would need to nominate a new EU commissioner.

Mr Hogan’s replacement may be put into a different portfolio to trade, a vital role during crunch talks between the EU and Britain to decide their post-Brexit relationship.