Ireland’s finance record to face EU scrutiny amid process to confirm McGuinness

The confirmation of MEP as new Irish EU commissioner is expected to be fast-tracked

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen has announced that Mairead McGuinness has been picked to be the next Irish commissioner following the resignation of Phil Hogan. Video: EU Commission

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The process to confirm Mairead McGuinness as Ireland’s new commissioner is expected to be fast-tracked, with Ireland’s record on finance, tax and banking set for tough scrutiny in the European Parliament.

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen named the long-serving MEP and vice-president of the European Parliament as her pick to succeed Phil Hogan as Ireland’s commissioner, allocating to Ms McGuinness the department responsible for EU policy on banking and finance.

Such nominations must be confirmed by national leaders in the European Council and by hearings and a vote by the European Parliament, a process that in the past has taken a month or more.

However, a push is under way to expedite the process, with the European People’s Party that forms the largest bloc in the European Parliament favouring holding confirmatory hearings as soon as September 21st.

Ms McGuinness has broad support in the European Parliament, and in the past has won large vote tallies when running for the position of its president and vice-president.

However, Ireland’s reputation on banking, finance and taxation matters is set to be the subject of tough questioning in the hearings.

The head of the left-wing Socialists and Democrats grouping in the European Parliament, Spanish MEP Iratxe Garcia Pérez, criticised the allocation of the Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union (Fisma) portfolio to Ireland, and indicated it would be challenged in the hearings.

“Ireland is not a fair tax player,” Ms Garcia Pérez wrote. “Holding both Fisma and Eurogroup is not what the EU needs for a just and social answer to the crisis.”

MEP Sven Giegold, spokesman for the German Greens in the parliament, said clarity was needed on Ireland’s commissioner having responsibility for tax transparency matters.

“The fact that the financial market portfolio is now in Irish hands raises questions,” Mr Giegold said. “The Irish financial service policy cannot serve as an example for Europe. Ireland has done a lot in the past to compete through soft supervision with London in financial services.”

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