Ireland’s government on Friday nominated Mairead McGuinness and Andrew McDowell as candidates to be the country’s next European commissioner, following Phil Hogan’s resignation as EU trade chief last week.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen must now decide which candidate to accept and whether they will retain the trade portfolio. The alternative is for her to conduct a broader reshuffle that could mean an existing commissioner taking trade and Ireland being allocated a less prestigious area of responsibility.
European Parliament First Vice President McGuinness is a member of Ireland’s Fine Gael, part of the European People’s Party. An MEP since 2004, McGuinness’ primary area of expertise is agriculture. Picking her would bring the College of Commissioners a step closer to gender parity.
The other candidate, McDowell, until recently served as a vice president at the European Investment Bank. He was previously chief economic adviser to Ireland’s prime minister and director of policy at Fine Gael. He is perceived by some as a low-profile pick intended to pave the way for McGuinness to be selected.
Von der Leyen had asked Dublin to nominate both a woman and a man for the vacant commissioner’s post. Following Friday’s nominations, the president said that she will interview the candidates early next week.
Whoever von der Leyen accepts must undergo a confirmation hearing at the European Parliament. The same applies to any commissioner accepting a new portfolio if there is a broader reshuffle.