The new EU Agriculture Commissioner designate is Ireland’s former Minister for the Environment, Phil Hogan.
Set to preside over a €55bn agriculture budget, Commissioner Hogan, will replace Dacian Cioloș who has held the top Brussels farm post since February 2010. This is subject, of course, to the fact that all nominations require approval by the European Parliament, a process which will begin later this month.
“I am putting 27 players in the field, each of whom has a specific role to play – this is my winning team,” said European Commission president-elect Jean-Claude Juncker, whose team list named Commission Hogan (pictured) as being responsible for agriculture and rural development, climate action and energy.
“In these unprecedented times, Europe’s citizens expect us to deliver,” said the president-elect. “After years of economic hardship and often painful reforms, Europeans expect a performing economy, sustainable jobs, more social protection, safer borders, energy security and digital opportunities. Today I am presenting the team that will put Europe back on the path to jobs and growth.
“In the new European Commission, form follows function. We have to be open to change. We have to show that the Commission can change. What I present to you today is a political, dynamic and effective European Commission, geared to give Europe its new start.”
Stepping into office in the midst of the EU’s response to the Russian ban on imports, the new farm Commissioner will take over a Cioloș programme which has already earmarked €155m for short-term market support measures in the perishable fruit and vegetable sectors and dairy sector, as well as increasing funding for promotion.
According to National Farmers Union (NFU) officials in Brussels, however, the out-going Commissioner is determined to “do all that he can” during his final six weeks in office to ensure stability in the European markets.
That will include, added the NFU, responding to calls from farm union presidents from across Europe for “action in the pig meat sector, increased focused on securing new markets beyond the EU and increased promotional funds, potentially bringing forward the EU’s new promotions policy from 2016 to 2015″.
Mr Hogan is not the first Irish politician to hold the post, of course. Ireland’s Ray MacSharry was Agriculture Commissioner in the 1990s, driving through reforms which shifted the EU towards a more free agricultural market, reduced levels of support by 29% for cereals and 15% for beef and created set-aside payments to withdraw land from production.