The European Union’s embattled Commissioner for Trade Phil Hogan failed to appear on screen at a digital panel discussion hosted by the EU’s delegation in Washington DC on Wednesday, August 25, after being teed up by panel moderator Nancy McLernon.
“Is he on with us?” asks McLernon to chuckles from the other panellists; Brad Smith, the President of Microsoft, and Kelly Ayotte, the former US Senator who currently holds positions on a number of corporate boards, including News Corp and Caterpillar Inc. Some confusion ensues, before McLernon decides to proceed with the discussion.
Hogan eventally logged on to the event, approximately five minutes after the panel discussion began. The reason for his delay was not made clear.
Hogan, who was a minister in Ireland prior to being named an EU Commissioner, is currently embroiled in controversy in Ireland for breaching COVID-19 restrictions while attending a golf event in the west of Ireland on August 19, and for failing to adhere to movement restriction guidelines after arriving in Ireland from Brussels on July 31.
Irish government leaders released a statement on August 25 saying it was “clear that breaches of public health guidelines were made by Commissioner Phil Hogan since he travelled to Ireland.”
Hogan is accountable to the President of the EU Commission Ursula von der Leyen, who is undertaking a review of Hogan’s actions. A spokesperson for the Commission said on August 26 that Von Der Leyen was still “examining and assessing” the situation.
Hogan headed the EU’s negotiating team in the recently agreed package of tariff reductions between the US and EU. The agreement will eliminate tariffs on imports of US live and frozen lobster products for a period of five years. US exports of these productes were over $111 million in 2017, according to a joint statement released by the EU and US. It is the first set of tariff reductions agreed between the two parties in more than two decades. Credit: EU in the US via Storyful