Kilkenny's Phil Hogan named as new EU Commissioner for Trade

Kilkenny's Phil Hogan named as new EU Commissioner for Trade

League leader Matteo Salvini, meanwhile, blasted Premier Giuseppe Conte's decision to propose Gentiloni as Italy's nominee for the new European Commission. But the European Union team, led by Cecilia Malmstrom, insists the ball is the U.S. court.

According to her organisational plans, Gentiloni will be overseen by Valdis Dombrovskis, a former Latvian prime minister who returns to the commission as Executive Vice President over economic affairs.

Alongside US talks, Brexit is set to be the biggest challenge facing Hogan, if he is approved for the position.

Von der Leyen said in her first speech as EC Chair: "I want this European Commission to be a flexible, modern, agile Commission", at another point calling it a "geopolitical Commission" and a "guardian of multilateralism", "fully devoted to Europe, understanding it completely and listening to European needs".

"Brexit, should it happen, is not the end of something but the beginning of our future relationship", she said.

In a statement, Commissioner Hogan says he will support the pursuit of a "strong, open and fair trade agenda". He said he was "very pleased" with the nomination.

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Her "college" of commissioners will take office on November 1, assuming they secure approval from the European Parliament - not a given after it only narrowly backed the German in July.

"I would like to warmly congratulate Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on the new College of Commissioners".

Sylvie Goulard, a former long-time European Union lawmaker now at France's central bank, will be responsible for the new directorate general, as commissioner for industrial policy.

This is the first time Ireland has been given the significant trade portfolio at the Commission, which is increasingly important now with many free trade agreements on the horizon and can be of enormous benefit to Ireland, especially in a post-Brexit scenario when we need to diversify and grow new markets.

And problems to confront within the European bloc include slowing growth, members such as Poland and Hungary spurning EU principles of solidarity and rule of law, and the populist current that is sustaining far-right politicians.

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