June 16, 2020 / 12:36 PM / 2 months ago

EU executive to partly shield WTO candidate Hogan from public view

FILE PHOTO: European Trade Commissioner-designate Phil Hogan of Ireland attends his hearing before the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium September 30, 2019. REUTERS/Yves Herman

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - EU trade chief Phil Hogan will limit public appearances after he put himself forward as a possible candidate to become the next head of the World Trade Organization, the European Commission said on Tuesday.

Hogan, an Irishman, said last week he was “exploring the option” of seeking to become director-general of the WTO, for which nominations run until July 8.

“The Commission decided in agreement with him to apply a certain number of measures, one of which is that he would refrain from public appearances that might distract from the subject at hand,” spokesman Eric Mamer told a news conference.

Hogan did deliver a speech on Tuesday to launch a public consultation on the EU’s future trade policy and answered only two questions from the compere, neither about the WTO post.

The Commission said it would also adopt the “four eyes principle”, meaning that Hogan’s direct boss, Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis, would oversee policy proposals or trade negotiating positions for which Hogan is responsible.

Mamer said Hogan would remain trade commissioner for now and was set, for example, to address members of the European Parliament next month on a planned reform of EU trade policy.

“So it’s not at all that there are limits to his activity as commissioner, but simply a certain number of simple precautionary measures,” Mamer said.

EU governments last week generally agreed to unite around one candidate for the WTO post, although some member states said they should not rule out supporting a candidate from a like-minded non-EU country.

Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop and Kate Abnett; Editing by Mark Heinrich

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