EU trade chief Phil Hogan drops out considering a bid for the top job at the World Trade Organization, citing a delay of the selection process in Geneva.
“I have decided that I will not be putting my name forward for the position of Director-General of the World Trade Organisation. I have informed the President of the Commission today,” Hogan said in a statement Wednesday.
“In consultation and approval of President Von Der Leyen, I will return to my duties of Trade Commissioner with immediate effect.”
Hogan caught much of Brussels by surprise in late May when he announced he was “exploring” a WTO candidacy. EU countries did not immediately back him at a trade ministers’ meeting in June. France and the Netherlands in particular said the EU should consider backing non-EU candidates.
Liberal EU countries worried that Hogan’s departure would upset the power balance in Brussels and pave the way to a more protectionist EU trade chief.
News that the WTO delayed a ruling in the fight between Brussels and Washington on subsidies for Boeing also piled pressure on Brussels to intervene.
In his statement Wednesday, Hogan suggested the WTO race would drag on for longer than he had originally expected and said such a protracted WTO race would create “uncertainty” at a time when the EU’s trade disputes with the United States and negotiations with China required “the full and careful involvement of the European Union and in particular, the Trade Commissioner.”