Phil Hogan expected to take on key EU Trade Commissioner role

Phil Hogan is expected to be appointed as Europe's new Trade Commissioner. Picture by Niall Carson/PA Wire

EUROPEAN Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan could find himself at the centre of crucial talks over a future trade agreement with the UK, as he is expected to be appointed as the new Trade Commissioner next week.

Mr Hogan, a former environment minister in the Republic, has held the powerful position of Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development since 2014.

He is expected to be appointed to the new post by the incoming President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen.

Bernd Lang, chairman of the European Parliament's trade committee, suggested there was an "80 per cent chance" Mr Hogan would be successful in the nomination, and that there was "little resistance" to his taking on the highly influential role.

The new Trade Commissioner will be revealed next week and will be central to any talks with the British government on a post-Brexit trade deal.

Mr Hogan has previously criticised British Prime Minister Boris Johnson for being "unelected" and installing a cabinet he describes as a "hard Brexit dream team".

In a speech to the Thomas D’Arcy McGee Summer School, he warned of "serious consequences" for securing a deal in the event of a hard Brexit, and suggested that future talks between the UK and EU on trade would take place in a "foul atmosphere".

Mr Hogan has previously defended the Irish border backstop, describing it as a "necessary, legally operative solution built into the Withdrawal Agreement", and told the audience at the summer school in Carlingford, Co Louth: "The UK government needs to take responsibility for its choices before it is too late."

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