EU trade chief Phil Hogan has joined the pool of possible contenders for the top job at the World Trade Organization, opening up the prospect of a departure that would send a shockwave through the European Commission.
The Irish commissioner for trade is “exploring” the idea of applying for the post of director general at the WTO in Geneva.
One of Hogan’s predecessors in the EU trade job, Britain’s Peter Mandelson threw his hat in the ring earlier this month. Spain’s Foreign Minister Arancha González and Dutch Trade Minister Sigrid Kaag are also said to be interested, but have yet to step forward.
One key advantage for Hogan over other European contenders could be his experience in dealing with the U.S. administration and friendly ties with his American counterpart Robert Lighthizer.
People close to Hogan said that the question whether the U.S. would back his candidature was “one of the things he’ll be exploring.”
As one of the most senior figures in President Ursula von der Leyen’s commission, Hogan’s early departure would require a significant reshuffle in Brussels — with the trade portfolio potentially moving to another country.
People familiar with Hogan’s thinking said his move “now requires others to declare whether they are interested or not.”