The Oireachtas, not the Taoiseach, should decide Ireland’s next European Commissioner – Hannigan
Issued : Wednesday 15 May, 2019
- ‘Phil Hogan should appear before Oireachtas to outline his achievements since 2014 and future priorities’ -
The Oireachtas, not the Taoiseach, should decide on Ireland’s next nominee to the European Commission. That’s according to Dominic Hannigan, Labour candidate for the European elections in the Midlands North West. Mr. Hannigan is also calling for the Oireachtas to hold a public hearing with the current incumbent, Phil Hogan, and any other suitably qualified candidates before its summer recess.
Commenting today (15.05.2019), Mr. Hannigan said: ‘Members of the European Commission are very powerful political figures. They decide what draft European laws and policy initiatives come before ministers and MEPs and they are responsible for ensuring that European laws and policies are implemented in all member states.
“The European Commission that takes office next November will have to address the many challenges now facing Europe – Europe’s role in tackling climate change; Brexit; the threat of terrorism; a much more unstable international environment, globalisation, migration, digital transformation, and population ageing, to name a few.
“That’s why the one of the very first tasks of the incoming European Parliament will be to hold confirmation hearings with all nominees to the new Commission in the autumn, with the European Parliament voting on the Commission as a whole at its October Plenary Session.
“There is very little discussion at present as to who should be the next nominee from Ireland. The current incumbent, Phil Hogan, said in January that he would be ‘positively disposed’ to being re-nominated but added that this is a matter for the Taoiseach to decide.
“I believe this is much too important a matter for the Taoiseach alone to decide, and that the Oireachtas should have a much greater say. It should not be dictated from behind closed doors who Ireland’s next nominee will be.
Strengthen links between the Irish public and Europe
Mr. Hannigan continued, “In my view Phil Hogan has worked hard for the past five years, but we need to ask, is he the right person for the next five years? Too often in the past, the Taoisigh have used the Commissionership as a means of ridding themselves of someone who was causing them domestic political problems. Many other countries by contrast treat it much more seriously – one third of the current Commissioners are ex-prime ministers or deputy prime ministers.
“At the very least Phil Hogan should come before the Oireachtas Committee on European Union Affairs, set out what he believes as his principal political achievements over the past five years, outline his vision and political priorities for the coming years, and take part in a full exchange of views with TDs and Senators as well as Ireland’s MEPs, north and south, who are entitled to attend its meetings. The Committee on European Affairs should then make a recommendation to the Oireachtas as a whole, which should then vote on who wins the nomination before it breaks for the summer recess.”
“Nearly one in five (18 per cent) Irish people say they are not satisfied with the way democracy works at EU level while over one in three (35 per cent) say that their voice doesn’t count in the EU, according to a recent Eurobarometer survey. Giving the Oireachtas a clear role in the decision on Ireland’s next nominee to the European Commission would represent a small but important step in strengthening the link between the public and Europe” Mr. Hannigan concluded.