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Phil Hogan comes under pressure to declare intent on WTO role - Irish Times
The position of Ireland's EU Commissioner Phil Hogan is increasingly awkward in Brussels as he weighs whether to run to be the next head of the World Trade Organisation.

Hogan is expected to announce his decision on whether to run next week, after floating the idea of being a candidate following the sudden resignation of Brazilian diplomat Roberto Azevêdo from the post.

In the meantime, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen has restricted his public appearances and activities to stop speculation about his run from becoming a distraction.

To guard against any potential conflicts of interest, Hogan's boss, EC vice president Valdis Dombrovskis, has been brought in to supervise decisions on policy proposals or trade negotiating positions that the former Fine Gael minister is responsible for, under a so-called "four-eyes-principle".

Conflicts of interest? What conflicts of interest?
Simple: As trade commissioner, Hogan is overseeing the EU trade negotiations with other countries, including the United Sates. To get the WTO post, one needs the full support of the main stakeholders, including the US.

EU stumbles to brink of tariff war with weakened trade chief - Politico

But the U.S. move comes at a moment when Brussels is particularly weak in its ability to counter the threat. Its trade chief, Phil Hogan, has just publicly announced his interest in running for the post of chief of the World Trade Organization, a position for which he would require the support of the United States.

Three EU diplomats and several industry officials told POLITICO they were worried about Hogan's apparent weakness at a moment when the EU needs to show strength.

"It's an ill-conceived and ill-thought-through plan. The EU needs a strong commissioner on trade and not one that has inflicted self harm on himself and therefore our trade instruments," said one EU diplomat.

by Bernard on Sun Jun 21st, 2020 at 08:26:00 PM EST
While it might be nice to be numero uno in an organisation, I' not sure I would regard the job of WTO Chief as much of a promotion these days. Rather it is something of a poisoned chalice, with Trump tearing up trade agreements for fun.

The EU Commissioner for trade job is also going to be a tough job in the next few years, with EU/UK trade talks likely to break down, and a war of words to ensue. Anybody in that job is not going to be popular in the UK, or popular in Ireland if the application of WTO rules ruins Ireland's beef and food trade with the UK.

So I would prefer a cussed Frenchman in either role, someone not afraid to play the bad cop as tensions rise.

I suggest Hogan gets off the fence and makes a decision either way. One phone call to the US should clear up whether he has their support for the WTO role. If not, he has another reason to give them a hard time in any future EU/US negotiations.

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by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Jun 21st, 2020 at 08:42:34 PM EST
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