21st Jun 2021

Irish MEP picked as new finance commissioner

  • MEP Mairead McGuinness was applauded by fellow MEPs when scolding Nigel Farage at the last plenary with Britain's EU lawmakers (Photo: European Parliament)

Veteran Irish centre-right MEP Mairead McGuinness was proposed as Ireland's new commissioner by EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen on Tuesday (8 September).

McGuinness will replace Phil Hogan, former trade commissioner, who was forced to resign after breaching coronavirus lockdown rules in the so-called 'golfgate' scandal.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Von der Leyen chose the financial market, financial stability and capital markets union portfolio for McGuinness, and instead passed trade issues to commission vice-president Valdis Dombrovskis.

The mini-reshuffle means the Latvian commissioner will take charge of settling tensions with the US, efforts to rein in China, and concluding trade talks with Australia and New Zealand. He has already been handling trade issues since Hogan quit.

Dombroviskis will continue to oversee the EU economy, and take part in the eurogroup meetings of eurozone finance ministers, alongside economy commissioner Paolo Gentiloni.

McGuinness will take part in the economic council with member states' ministers.

Von der Leyen said McGuinness has a "significant political experience on EU issues", which would be "crucial in carrying forward the EU financials sector policy agenda".

The new commissioner will still have to be appointed by the council after seeking of opinion of the European Parliament, which entails a hearing for McGuinness by her fellow MEPs in the economy committee.

But first the parliament's legal affairs committee will check if she has any possible conflicts of interest.

The parliament's trade committee will also want to hear from Dombrovskis.

Von der Leyen can reshuffle portfolios among sitting commissioners, but the parliament can ask for an exchange of views.

Trade committee chair Bernd Lange said Dombrovskis' new set of tasks was an "unusual portfolio, to say the least".

"Looking forward to welcoming Dombrovskis to his hearing in front of the trade committee soon!," Lange added.

However, von der Leyen kept the shake up of her commission to a minimum - reinforcing her image as a commission president who values stability over grandiose political surprises.

Dombrovkis, a former Latvian prime minister, holds onto overseeing the EU economy, while a part of his portfolio went to the new Irish commissioner.

It will involve leading the commission's banking and finance reform, and it will give McGuinness a key role in overseeing access of the City of London to EU markets.

Ireland has been amassing several financial portfolios: former Irish finance minister Paschal Donohoe was chosen in July to head the eurogroup.

McGuinness has been an MEP since 2004 and has served as the assembly's deputy president since 2017. She is largely well-respected and liked among fellow MEPs.

Recently, she won praise when she chaired the parliamentary plenary during the last-ever session with Britain's departing MEPs.

McGuinness scolded Nigel Farage and his fellow Brexit party MEPs for waving the British flag in the chamber, which is a breach of parliamentary procedure.

Hogan sets out trade plans at commissioner grilling

Phil Hogan, the current agriculture commissioner, told MEPs the EU needs to defend itself in trade disputes but will try to work together with the US, if Washington is a willing partner.

Catalan MEPs lose immunity, slam 'political persecution'

Catalan separatist MEPs Carles Puigdemont, Toni Comín and Clara Ponsatí lost their parliamentary immunity - a result they have hailed as a "political victory" for bringing the conflict between Catalonia and Spain closer to the heart of Europe.

MEPs chide Portugal and Council in EU prosecutor dispute

The Belgian and Bulgarian prosecutors who were appointed had also not been the experts' first choice. Belgian prosecutor Jean-Michel Verelst has challenged the council's decision at the European Court of Justice.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance

Latest News

  1. Too soon to lift EU sanctions on Burundi, NGOs warn
  2. EU to wage economic war on Belarus dictator
  3. EU commission takes stand against Danish asylum law
  4. Air pollution in many EU cities 'stubbornly high'
  5. EU leaders discuss Turkey, Russia, migration This WEEK
  6. Pandemic exposed corruption in some EU health systems
  7. The European Court of Justice vs German Constitutional Court
  8. AstraZeneca must deliver 50m doses by September or face fines

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us