Irishman set to lead EU trade talks with UK, US

Incoming European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announces Ireland's Phil Hogan as candidate for EU Trade Commissioner during a media conference at EU headquarters in Brussels, Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019. Incoming European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Tuesday unveiled her team of candidates for the EU commission. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)
Incoming European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen arrives for a media conference at EU headquarters in Brussels, Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019. Incoming European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Tuesday unveiled her team of candidates for the EU commission. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)
Incoming European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen speaks during a media conference at EU headquarters in Brussels, Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019. Incoming European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Tuesday unveiled her team of candidates for the EU commission. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)
Incoming European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen speaks during a media conference at EU headquarters in Brussels, Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019. Incoming European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Tuesday unveiled her team of candidates for the EU commission. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

BRUSSELS — The incoming president of the European Union's powerful executive arm on Tuesday nominated Irishman Phil Hogan to lead future EU trade talks, which could put him in charge of negotiations with Britain after Brexit.

"I think the trade commissioner, who will have to deal with the future trade agreement we will be negotiating (with Britain), is an excellent choice," European Commission president-elect Ursula von der Leyen told reporters as she unveiled her new team of policy commissioners.

"He is known as a hard and a fair negotiator," she said.

The commission negotiates trade agreements with other countries and blocs on behalf of the 28 EU member countries. Once Britain leaves — Brexit is currently scheduled for Oct. 31 — London would face the long and arduous task of drawing up new trade relations with its European partners.

Hogan, whose country is likely to be hit hard economically by Brexit, will join forces with former Brexit deputy negotiator Sabine Weyand, who was in June appointed head of the commission's trade directorate.

Hogan is currently serving as agriculture commissioner.

In a tweet after the announcement, Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said: "Phil Hogan's appointment as EU Trade Commissioner is a very positive development for Ireland. We sought a major economic brief in the new European Commission, and I am very satisfied that we have secured it."

Von der Leyen's new team is due to take up their jobs on Nov. 1, once they have been vetted by the European Parliament.

Hogan will also lead trade talks with the United States amid deep tensions over President Donald Trump's decision to impose tariffs on the Europeans.

Trump administration officials have accused the current European commission team of dragging its feet in talks on a new, limited, trade agreement. But the EU team, led by Cecilia Malmstrom, insists the ball is the U.S. court.

Trump has also been angered by the EU's aggressive moves to crack down on market abuse by major companies, particularly U.S. tech companies, that have led to billions of dollars in fines on the likes of Google and Microsoft. But the current competition commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, is set to retain her portfolio — and receive extra clout in a promotion that would see her become a commission Executive Vice-President.

Other News

Japan's economy slows to snail's pace as exports falter

Aug 15, 2016

Japan's economy slows in the April-June quarter, as weaker exports and business investment weigh on the faltering recovery of the world's third-largest economy

Great Lakes no help for a struggling Trump on road to 270

Aug 15, 2016

Donald Trump needs a place to reset the electoral map, and he seems to be looking at the industrial heartland states on the Great Lakes.

Asian stocks drift pending fresh news; oil takes a breather

Aug 16, 2016

Asian stock markets drifted sideways on Tuesday as the price of oil took a breather from a three-day rally

The Budget Report seeks to provide comprehensive coverage and analysis on the current economic, financial issues around the world. First hand finance and economic news all day, every day.