Mairead McGuinness appointed European Commissioner for Ireland, given “significant financial portfolio”

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Fine Gael MEP Mairead McGuinness has been chosen to be the next Irish Commissioner following the resignation of Phil Hogan, and will be given the financial services portfolio.

“Ms McGuinness has significant political experience on European issues, having been a Member of the European Parliament since 2004 and currently holding the post of First Vice-President of the European Parliament,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said during the announcement.

“This experience is crucial to advancing the EU’s political agenda in the financial sector and ensuring that it supports and reinforces the key priority of the Commission, in particular the dual green and digital transition.”

As Vice-President of the European Parliament since 2014, Ms McGuinness is very high profile in Brussels and has been widely approached for this role. The business portfolio will be assumed by Latvian Valdis Dombrovskis, a former prime minister and commissioner since 2014, who has held the post since Mr Hogan resigned amid controversy over his violation of Covid-19 self-isolation rules in Ireland.

The financial stability, financial services and capital markets union portfolio that Ms McGuinness will assume was previously part of Mr Dombrovskis’ mandate and is to lead the commission’s banking and financial reforms.

In a statement, Ms McGuinness said the portfolio “cuts across all policy areas” and described it as “fundamental to European citizens, businesses, SMEs and how the EU is recovering from the Covid pandemic -19 “.

The appointment is subject to review and vote in the European Parliament. The process should be speeded up, as EU institutions want to resolve the issue quickly and ensure stability amid the pandemic, its economic fallout and uncertainty over whether a trade relationship can be struck with Britain from here. the end of the year.

The move came after Dr von der Leyen interviewed Ms McGuinness and her fellow candidate, former European Investment Bank Vice President Andrew McDowell. The Irish government came up with the two names after Dr von der Leyen asked for both “a woman and a man” to be nominated.

Dr von der Leyen described the two as “excellent candidates” with “experience in European issues, of course from different perspectives”.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin welcomed the appointment of Ms McGuinness to the “important” portfolio.

“I have no doubt that she will serve with distinction and play a key role in the work of the commission,” said Mr. Martin.

Ireland is seen in Brussels to have done well in the reshuffle, following speculation that Dr von der Leyen may choose to give the new Irish commissioner a less prestigious portfolio as a reprimand to Dublin for having exerted unwanted political pressure on her to sack Mr Hogan.

While Ms McGuinness’ choice has been widely praised, Ireland’s attribution of the financial services dossier has been criticized and some MPs have suggested the Republic’s fiscal and financial record will be closely scrutinized.

With Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe currently chairman of the Eurogroup, “key financial positions are now in the hands of the Irish,” German Green MP Sven Giegold said, warning that Irish financial policies cannot “be used as a tool. example for Europe “.

Financial services constitute an important mission which involves working towards the creation of a single capital market in the EU and carrying out reforms of the financial and banking sector aimed at strengthening stability and avoiding a repetition of past economic crises.

The case overlaps with the EU’s historic plan to borrow 750 billion euros in international markets to finance the economic recovery after the coronavirus pandemic. It will also be important in the context of the challenges posed to the City of London by Brexit and the relocation of certain financial services to EU hubs, notably Frankfurt, Amsterdam and Dublin.


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