Taoiseach Brian Cowen has announced that former Fianna Fáil minister Maire Geoghegan-Quinn has been nominated for appointment to the incoming EU Commission.

Ms Geoghegan-Quinn, who is currently a member of the European Court of Auditors, is the first Irish woman to be nominated to the European commission.

For the past nine years she has been a member of the Luxembourg based European Court of Auditors, which checks how the EU spends taxpayers’ money.

Mrs Geoghegan Quinn today said she is honoured to have been nominated as Ireland’s next Commissioner.

She said she will spend the next few weeks in consultations with Commission President José Manuel Barroso and the Taoiseach over which portfolio she may be allocated.

Mrs Geoghegan-Quinn said she was first contacted by the Taoiseach 12 days ago while she was on holiday in the US.

It is understood she was contacted in Luxembourg by phone at 5.30pm Irish time yesterday by the Taoiseach and that she accepted the nomination at that point.

Following the earlier phone call Mrs Geoghegan-Quinn had discussions with the President of the European Commission Jose-Manuel Barroso by telephone.

Mrs Geoghegan-Quinn said she would be interested in a portfolio which she could 'get her teeth into' and which would allow her to build on her years at the European Court of Auditors in Luxembourg.

Although governments nominate members of the Commission, it is the MEPs who have the final say on who becomes a Commissioner.

The new Commission is expected to take office by the beginning of February.

In a statement, Taoiseach Brian Cowen said 'she has been an exemplary Member of the European Court of Auditors for the past nine years and, prior to that, held a number of key Ministerial positions in the Irish Government.'

He said her experience and qualities make her 'particularly suited' to serving as European Commissioner.

'I expect her to make a major contribution to the work of the new Commission which will include the challenge of overseeing implementation of the positive changes that the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty will usher in', he added.

The Taoiseach said that Ms Geoghegan-Quinn enjoys wide respect in Europe for her role in the Court of Auditors, and has an in-depth knowledge of the workings of the EU.

In the statement, Mr Cowen also thanked outgoing Commissioner Charlie McCreevy for his 'significant contribution'.

The new Commission is expected to take office by the beginning of February.

IFA President Padraig Walshe has congratulated Mrs Geoghegan0Quinn on her nomination.

Mr Walshe said she is taking on the role as EU Commissioner for Ireland at a very important time for this country.

He said the IFA is looking forward to working closely with the new Commissioner in the context of the very important discussions that will take place as part of the review of the Common Agricultural Policy between now and 2013.