EU trade chief Hogan says he will not seek to head WTO

EU commissioner for Trade Phil Hogan and European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen attend the weekly college meeting of the European Commission in Brussels, Belgium, 8 January 2020. [Stephanie Lecocq/EPA/EFE]

European Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan said on Monday (29 June) he would not seek to become the next director-general of the World Trade Organisation, despite having previously stated he was looking into the possibility.

Hogan said in a statement the EU’s trade agenda, including transatlantic tensions, the need to establish a level playing field with China and talks with Britain about future relations required the full involvement of the European Union and, in particular, the trade Commissioner.

“Accordingly, I have decided that I will not be putting my name forward for the position of Director-General of the World Trade Organisation,” he said.

Hogan said earlier this month he was exploring the option of being a candidate for the post that will become vacant at the start of September as incumbent Roberto Azevedo is stepping down a year early.

Reacting to his announcement, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen wrote on Twitter that Hogan has “a heavy and ambitious agenda”.

“The Commission supports a strong WTO under renewed leadership. Europe will continue to support and promote multilateralism,” she added.

Europe leaning toward proposing a single candidate for WTO

A majority of EU member states support agreeing on a single European candidate to succeed Roberto Azevedo as the World Trade Organisation chief, a bid that EU Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan said he is considering.

During a videoconference with trade ministers held earlier this month, Hogan said “a majority of Europeans” were in favour of proposing a single European candidate for the WTO.

Spanish Foreign Affairs Minister Arancha González Laya, who has also been mentioned as a potential contender, has not confirmed yet whether she would seek to succeed Azevedo.

[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]

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