As the Government is waiting for the new Labour leader, it appears that no decisions on whom the next EU Commission candidate from Ireland will be. Long standing speculation that Big Phil Hogan was the man to go was in recent weeks thrown into question. With the resignation of Eamon Gilmore some suggested that it would be an ideal location in which to place him.
But while Ireland stalls, the rest of the Union are about business. The ongoing difficulties in agreeing the nominee for President of the Commission has afforded opportunities for a full scale lobby attack for key positions/portfolios by some member states. As a country it is important that we are at the heart of the commission and not just there making up the numbers. As the union increased to twenty eight members, each with the right to nominate a commissioner, the scale of the portfolios has reduced as the number of positions increased. Some of the positions are, in effect non jobs, just seats at the table. There is active consideration towards creating a two tier Commission along the lines of our senior and junior ministers, with only the senior commissioners playing a full role.
Ireland, in general was fortunate over our time in Europe to get reasonable positions at the Commission table. But if the Government does not act soon in confirming who their nominee is, they face the prospect that all the important jobs will already be assigned. The government needs to declare who they intend to send to Europe and allow that person to “work the room” and get the best possible role rather than accepting what’s left over.