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23rd Feb 2024

Ireland's ex-commissioner Phil Hogan bags €1m lobbying EU

  • Phil Hogan resigned in 2020 after the Irish government accused him of breaking anti-coronavirus rules (Photo: European Commission)
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Phil Hogan, the Irish former commissioner, has made at least €1m from lobbying the European Union.

The figure is contained in a declaration submitted to officials in Brussels last week.

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In the document, Hogan states that his firm generated revenue worth more than or equal to €1m in 2022.

The details suggest that Hogan has been doing extremely well since he was forced to resign his post with the European Commission — the EU's executive — in August 2020 amid a controversy known as 'Golfgate.'

His consultancy Hogan Strategic Advisory Services has five clients, according to the recent declaration. They include such business giants as JP Morgan, Visa and Vodafone.

Hogan is named as the managing director of his consultancy in the declaration — filed with the European Commission, which maintains a so-called "transparency register."

The €1m figure is the figure given for revenue gathered while advancing the interests of his clients in contacts with the EU institutions. Lobbying, in plain terms.

Hogan was nominated by the Irish government for a seat at the European Commission's top table in 2014. Over the next six years, he held the portfolios for agriculture and trade.

Under an "ethics" policy, former EU commissioners are supposed to abide by the principles of "independence, integrity and discretion" after stepping down.

Hogan has nominally been subject to a two-year "scrutiny period" following his August 2020 resignation.

He was required to formally notify the Brussels bureaucracy of any jobs he accepted in that period. All hirings are supposed to undergo an assessment by a committee dealing with ethics if they were connected with the portfolios Hogan held as an EU commissioner.

Playing by the rules?

Although the two-year period has now expired, there are questions about whether Hogan has played by the rules.

The European Commission does not appear to have published any evaluation into an announcement by the law firm DLA Piper that it had recruited Hogan.

In the announcement — dated 15 September 2021 — DLA Piper described Hogan as an "experienced political leader." Getting him onboard would allow the firm to help its clients "navigate rapidly changing regulatory and business environments."

I contacted Hogan asking if he had notified the European Commission of his recruitment by DLA Piper. He did not reply.

Hogan was embroiled in controversy when it emerged that he had attended a dinner organised by the Oireachtas Golf Society at the height of the Covid pandemic in 2020. The society is composed of elected representatives — both current and past — in Ireland's parliament, the Oireachtas.

After news broke of his attendance at the event — held in Clifden on Ireland's west coast — Hogan initially sought to retain his post as an EU commissioner. But he was subsequently pushed into resigning by Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission's president.

Although a court eventually ruled that the event did not breach public health guidelines, the event illustrated the arrogance of Ireland's political elite. It took place at a time when ordinary people had cancelled weddings, accepted reduced numbers at funerals and other stringent measures aimed at halting the spread of the coronavirus.

Before moving to Brussels, Hogan was one of the most rightwing ministers in the Dublin government.

As part of an austerity agenda, he sought to introduce water charges, prompting large-scale protests. It was Hogan who threatened that water "would be cut down to a trickle" for those who did not pay.

His commitment to sledgehammer neoliberalism chimes with the prevailing ethos in Brussels. Evidently, he is now able to command extravagant fees for his work as a lobbyist.

This article was originally published in David Cronin's newsletter

Author bio

David Cronin is an Irish journalist living in Brussels. He is the author of the books Balfour's Shadow, Corporate Europe and Europe's Alliance With Israel. He is an associate editor of The Electronic Intifada, a website focused on Palestine.

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