Top trade chief ready to BAIL on bloc – nightmare for Von der Leyen

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Mr Hogan has only been in his current job seven months, having been appointed by Mrs von der Leyen when she came into office on December 1. However, sources in both Dublin and Brussels have said he fancies the chance of replacing outgoing Robert Acevedo, who announced last month he was stepping down a year early from his job as WTO director-general.

This has only arisen in the past fortnight

Insider

One insider said Mr Hogan, a member of Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s Fine Gael party, was “exploring the idea” after being urged by several WTO member states to apply.

The source told the Irish Times: “This has only arisen in the past fortnight. He has not made up his mind.”

If he were to throw his hat into the ring and subsequently be successful, Mr Hogan would not be the first Irishman in the role – Peter Sutherland, who was Ireland’s attorney general before becoming European commissioner for competition policy, was the WTO’s founding director general between 1993 and 1995.

Meanwhile the next Irish Government would have to choose a replacement commissioner, while Mrs von der Leyen will likely have to shuffle her pack by appointing an EU Trade Commissioner from a different country.

Mr Hogan may have an advantage because of his prior relationship with Robert Lighthizer, United States Trade Representative.

Those close to Mr Hogan told Politico the question of whether Mr Lighthizer would back his candidacy was “one of the things he’ll be exploring.”

Others who know Mr Hogan said he “now requires others to declare whether they are interested or not.”

Mr Hogan raised eyebrows in March after describing the EU as a “superpower”.

Writing in The Parliament, the European Parliament’s official magazine, Mr Hogan bragged: “Our single market of 446 million consumers makes us highly attractive as a trading partner.

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“That is why countries and regional blocs all around the world are lining up to sign deals with us.”

“The European Union is a regulatory superpower.

“This means that we are often at the head of the pack when it comes to setting standards worldwide.

“Take data protection; our EU regulation in this complex policy area is viewed as a global trendsetter and has been adopted by many other countries.

“Or take climate action; Europe is already a global leader in implementing the COP21 targets, but our ambition has been turbocharged by President von der Leyen’s flagship initiative, the European Green Deal.”

His words drew scorn from Brexit-backing MP Daniel Kawczynski.

The Shrewsbury and Atcham MP asked: “Is he having a laugh here?

“That’s the question which immediately springs to my mind when I hear his vision of a regulatory superpower.

“Thank goodness we have left the EU and can create a regulatory framework which British business and citizens can support whilst ensuring Britain is competitive and supporting business innovation.”

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