BRUSSELS (Reuters) – European Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis will assume temporary responsibility for trade after the resignation of Ireland’s Phil Hogan, EU executive chief Ursula von der Leyen said on Thursday.
The former Latvian prime minister will take charge as the European Union seeks to ease trade tensions with the United States, seal a deal on future relations with Britain and unite around a new leader for the World Trade Organization.
Dombrovskis previously stood in for two weeks in June when Hogan said he was considering putting himself forward to become the next WTO director-general. He finally opted not to do so.
The Commission coordinates trade policy for the EU’s 27 members, meaning the EU trade chief is among the most powerful of the “college” of commissioners.
Von der Leyen said the Irish government should propose a man and a woman as potential successors and she would later determine the final allocation of tasks. Ireland may not retain the trade portfolio.
Hogan quit late on Wednesday after days of pressure over allegations he had breached COVID-19 guidelines during a trip to Ireland, saying the controversy had become a distraction from his work.
Von der Leyen thanked Hogan for his work as commissioner for trade and previously for agriculture, but said she expected her team to be particularly vigilant about complying with national or regional coronavirus restrictions.
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