Catherine Day to leave European Commission role

Irish official has been secretary general for almost a decade

Irish EU official Catherine Day is to step down as secretary general of the European Commission at the end of August following almost 10 years in the role.

Ms Day is expected to be replaced by Alexander Italianer, who is currently head of the European Commission's Competition Directorate-general.

She was appointed by former European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso to the Commission's top job in 2005, replacing Irishman David O' Sullivan, who is currently the EU's ambassador to Washington.

While Ms Day had been expected to retire after the appointment of the new Commission, it is understood that she was asked to stay on by the current president Jean-Claude Juncker.


A native of Mount Merrion in Dublin, Ms Day (60) began her career in the European Union in 1979, having previously worked for the Confederation of Irish Industry.

In the Commission she worked for a number of EU Commissioners including Irish EU commissioners Richard Burke and Peter Sutherland, and former British commissioner Leon Brittan for whom she worked for two terms.

She was appointed deputy director-general for external relations under Chris Patten in 2001 and was centrally involved in the European Union's enlargement in 2004 which saw 10 central and east European states join the European Union.

As the European Commission’s most senior official Ms Day played a key role in the euro zone crisis under the Barroso commission and has continued to play a decisive role in the steering of EU policy under the Juncker commission.

Educated at Mount Anville and University College Dublin, Ms Day was the first woman to hold the post of Secretary General of the European Commission.

Mr Italianer, a Dutch native who was replace Ms Day in September, was previously deputy Secretary General of the European Commission between 2006 and 2010.

Suzanne Lynch

Suzanne Lynch

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