Speculation mounts over agriculture portfolio for HoganThursday 04 September 2014 17.56
Ireland's European Commissioner-designate Phil Hogan has held a 40-minute interview with the new Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker amid growing speculation that he will be granted the agriculture portfolio.
Mr Juncker has been holding interviews with nominees from 26 member states since Tuesday, with the final announcement of which country gets which portfolio next Tuesday.
Last weekend the Taoiseach Enda Kenny said he had spoken to Mr Juncker on the margins of an EU summit and stressed Ireland's aspiration for a portfolio which covered the areas of "jobs, growth and investment".
It is understood that during Mr Hogan's interview the Commission president acknowledged the Government's position.
A senior source said that the agriculture portfolio was "still very much in play".
Following the announcement of the portfolios next week, the new commissioners will undergo hearings before the relevant European Parliament committees, before the new Commission as a whole is approved - or rejected - by a full plenary session of the parliament when it meets in Strasbourg in October.
The new Commission is due to take office on 1 November although it could be subject to further delays.
Two nominations today should allow Mr Juncker to appoint as many women as in the outgoing EU executive, meeting a demand from legislators.
Mr Juncker's office confirmed that Belgium and Romania had put forward Marianne Thyssen and Corina Cretu, respectively for their countries' places on the 28-strong Commission, bringing the total of women nominated to nine, the same number as in the present team headed by outgoing president, José Manuel Barroso.