Ireland’s EU commissioner Phil Hogan has been nominated as the European Union’s next trade negotiator.
Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan was nominated by President-elect Ursula von der Leyen.
Mr Hogan will play a central role in overseeing the future trade talks with the UK after Brexit.
Mr Hogan said he was “very pleased” to be nominated for the chief role.
“This is undoubtedly one of the most important economic portfolios in the College of Commissioners, and the appointment comes at a very important time for the European Union and for Ireland,” he said.
“International trade is the lifeline of the EU economy and its economic importance is illustrated by the fact that one in every seven jobs in the EU is supported by the export of goods and services.
“Trade is a political priority for the European Commission and one with which I have been very closely involved during my term as Commissioner for Agriculture.”
Mr Hogan said that as a result of the European Commission’s trade agenda, the EU has become the largest exporter of agri-food products in the world, with exports of 138 billion euro (£123 billion) last year.
He added that following several recent trade agreements, there was “enormous untapped potential” for job creation through those trade agreements.
“Given that every one billion euro of exports supports 14 000 jobs, the scale of the potential is clear for all to see,” he added
“Ireland is a small, open, export-orientated economy, which has been a very significant beneficiary of EU trade policy and the growth of exports over many years.
“Today, it is estimated that that exports to countries outside the EU support around 650,000 jobs in Ireland, particularly in such sectors as agri-food, pharma, medical devices, med-tech and financial services.
“I am very much looking forward to starting in this exciting and challenging portfolio and to supporting President-elect von der Leyen in her pursuit of a strong, open and fair trade agenda through which Europe’s role as a global leader can be strengthened.”
Irish premier Leo Varadkar congratulated Mr Hogan, describing his appointment as a “very positive development” for Ireland.
The Taoiseach said: “Ireland sought a major economic brief in the new European Commission, and I am very satisfied that we have secured it.
“Commissioner Hogan will of course work for Europe as a whole, but it is a definite advantage to have an Irish person in charge of this crucial brief over the next five years.
“He will take the lead on the EU’s post-Brexit trade deal with the UK, as well as Mercosur and the EU’s trading relations with India, the US and China.
“Phil did an excellent job in the Agriculture and Rural Development brief. He is widely respected in Brussels and across the EU as a skilled negotiator and someone who builds alliances.
“He has proven to be vociferous on Brexit, and I am sure that this will continue in his new role.
“We look forward to working closely with the new Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, who has already shown a deep understanding of the negative impact Brexit could have on Ireland and across the EU.”