Mairead McGuinness eyes second term as EU commissioner

Former Fine Gael MEP has been serving as European commissioner for financial services, financial stability and capital markets union since 2020

Mairead McGuinness has said she is prepared to serve again as Ireland’s European commissioner in Brussels when her current term expires next year, potentially setting off a jostle for jobs among the Coalition parties.

The Fine Gael former MEP has been serving as European commissioner for financial services, financial stability and capital markets union since her appointment following Phil Hogan’s resignation in 2020, and her term of office is due to expire after European elections in June next year.

“I am willing to serve again in the European Commission, but that’s a decision for the Irish Government,” Ms McGuinness said when asked about her plans by the Irish Times at a Bloomberg event in Brussels.

She demurred when asked whether she would return to politics in Ireland, where she has sometimes been suggested as a potential candidate to run for the presidency when Michael D. Higgins’ term expires in 2025.


“I haven’t really thought about that Naomi, because they keep me kind of busy on all sorts of things. And I think you’re better off focused on the job you have without plotting and planning,” she said.

There had been some expectation that under the Government’s Coalition agreement the next Irish European commissioner would come from the ranks of Fianna Fáil, with figures including Tánaiste Micheál Martin at times being mooted for the gig.

After the European elections in June 2024 however the EU’s top jobs will be divvied up between the pan-European political groups according to the results of the vote, with roles allocated proportionally to groups like Fine Gael’s European People’s Party and Fianna Fáil’s Renew.

If Mr Martin were to be offered a different prominent job in Brussels, a space could open up for Ms McGuinness to argue that she is Ireland’s best chance of clinching a senior position in the European Commission cabinet as a second-term appointment.

There has been speculation that Mr Martin might like to become EU’s chief diplomat or a successor to European Council president Charles Michel, but when asked he has insisted he intends to lead Fianna Fáil into the next election.

A former journalist, McGuinness served as a Member of the European Parliament for Fine Gael between 2004 to 2020. Her seat in Midlands–North-West was taken up by Fine Gael’s Colm Markey, who has said he intends to seek his party’s nomination to run for the election in 2024.

“I have a replacement colleague, Colm Markey who is running and Maria Walsh in the constituency,” Ms McGuinness said. “What I’m curious to know about the elections is whether there will be another seat in the constituency, so I’ll be following that.”

Naomi O’Leary

Naomi O’Leary

Naomi O’Leary is Europe Correspondent of The Irish Times