Phil Hogan

Phil Hogan (born 4 July 1960) is an Irish Fine Gael politician, European Commissioner for Trade since 2019, and previously European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development between 2014 and 2019.

Phil Hogan
European Commissioner for Trade
Assumed office
1 December 2019
PresidentUrsula von der Leyen
Preceded byCecilia Malmström
European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development
In office
1 November 2014  30 November 2019
PresidentJean-Claude Juncker
Preceded byDacian Cioloș
Succeeded byJanusz Wojciechowski
Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government
In office
9 March 2011  11 July 2014
TaoiseachEnda Kenny
Preceded byÉamon Ó Cuív
Succeeded byAlan Kelly
Minister of State at the Department of Finance
In office
20 December 1994  27 January 1995
TaoiseachJohn Bruton
Preceded byNoel Dempsey
Succeeded byAvril Doyle
Teachta Dála
In office
June 1989  30 October 2014
In office
23 April 1987  15 June 1989
ConstituencyIndustrial and Commercial Panel
Personal details
Philip Hogan

(1960-07-04) 4 July 1960
Kilkenny, Ireland
Political partyFine Gael
Other political
European People's Party
Cáit Ryan
(m. 1991; sep. 2008)
EducationUniversity College Cork

He previously served as Irish Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government from 2011 to 2014 and Minister of State at the Department of Finance from 1994 to 1995, as well as a Teachta Dála (TD) for the Carlow–Kilkenny constituency from 1989 to 2014.[1]

Early and private life

Hogan was born in Kilkenny in 1960. He grew up on a farm in the south-east of Ireland. He was educated locally in St. Joseph's College, Freshford, and in St. Kieran's College, Kilkenny. Afterwards, he attended University College Cork, where he graduated with a degree in Economics and Geography. He also received a Higher Diploma in Education from the same university.[2] After completing his university studies, he returned to Kilkenny to manage his family farm. During that time period, he also founded an insurance and real estate business in Urlingford, Kilkenny in the 1980s.

Politics at an early age

Hogan first became involved in politics at a young age, when he became a local County Councillor on Kilkenny County Council, at the age of 22. He would retain that seat in the 1985 Local Elections when he topped the poll in his area. Around the time of his 25th birthday, he was elected Chairman of Kilkenny County Council. He was then the country’s youngest council chairman.[3] He would serve in this role on two separate occasions, first between 1985–1986 and then between 1989–1990. In addition to his local political activities, Hogan was also an active member of the South-Eastern Health Board between 1991 and 1999.[2] From there, Hogan decided to contest the 1987 general election in an unsuccessful bid.[1] Soon after, Hogan was subsequently elected to Seanad Éireann as a Senator for the Industrial and Commercial Panel, serving between 1987 and 1989.

National politics


After serving as a Senator in Seanad Éireann for two years, Hogan was subsequently elected to the lower house (Dáil Éireann) for the Carlow–Kilkenny constituency in the 1989 general election.[4] During his first few years in the Dáil, he was appointed to a number of key positions in opposition, serving in his first few years as the Opposition Spokesperson for the Food Industry (1989-1991), Consumer Affairs (1991-1993), and subsequently Regional Affairs & European Development (1993-1994).[5] During his first few years, Hogan worked closely with the Fine Gael leader at the time, John Bruton. When Fine Gael formed the 'rainbow coalition' government in 1994, Hogan was offered the opportunity to serve as Minister of State at the Department of Finance with special responsibility for the Office of Public Works.

Minister of State and subsequent Chairmanship of the Fine Gael Parliamentary Party

Hogan served as Minister of State at the Department of Finance with special responsibility for the Office of Public Works between December 1994 and February 1995. However, he subsequently tendered his resignation when a staff member accidentally sent out budget details to a journalist before it was announced in the Dáil. At the time, opposition parties described Hogan as ‘the fall guy’ for the budget leaks. Hogan was quoted as saying that "he [had] no regrets about his decision to resign. My only concern in all of this is to ensure that the integrity of the government is maintained."[6] Following his resignation, Hogan returned to a backbench position in the government. Despite the controversy surrounding the incident, Hogan was promoted as Chairman of the Fine Gael parliamentary party at the age of 35, a position he held until 2001.[7] As Chairman, Hogan had the opportunity to develop the organisational roots of Fine Gael and strengthened the network between councillors and sub-groups within the Fine Gael party.

2002 leadership election and subsequent leadership contest

In the run-up to the 2002 general election, Hogan was appointed Director of Organisation in Fine Gael. Upon the resignation of Michael Noonan as party leader of Fine Gael after the party's poor results in that election, Hogan opted to contest the subsequent election for the new Fine Gael leader.[8] While he conceded the contest to Enda Kenny, he was appointed as Opposition Spokesperson for Enterprise, Trade and Employment and became a key member of the Fine Gael parliamentary party as it started the rebuilding process. Hogan was again appointed as Director of Organisation for the 2007 general election.[1] Soon after, he became the Opposition Spokesperson for Fine Gael on Environment, Heritage and Local government for the next 4 years.[3]

2011 general election and Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government

In the lead up to the 2011 General Election, Hogan was appointed by Fine Gael Leader Enda Kenny as National Director of Elections for Fine Gael. Following the 2011 general election, the most successful in the history of Fine Gael, in which it and Labour formed the largest coalition government in the state's history, Hogan was appointed by the Taoiseach as Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government.[9]

Local government reform

Hogan was responsible for several pieces of legislation to reform local government and introduce gender quotas so as to increase the representation of women in Irish political life. Hogan introduced the Local Governments Bill, which aimed to streamline local governance, abolishing 80 town councils with the overall number of councils operating in Ireland going from 114 to 31.[10] The reforms were enacted as the Local Government Reform Act 2014 and were planned to come into effect in 2014, to coincide with the next scheduled local elections.[11][12][13]

Gender quotas

In addition to local government reform, Hogan also introduced reform within the political party framework. As part of a series of reforms, he introduced measures to support female participation in politics. The Electoral (Amendment) (Political Funding) Bill 2011 would see parties lose half of their central exchequer funding unless the minority sex among their candidates accounts for 30 per cent of the entire national ticket at the next general election. The reform was brought in successfully alongside additional amendments to party political funding mechanisms.

In advance of the 2016 General Election, Hogan noted that "this legislation has had the unprecedented effect of all major political parties selecting a minimum of 30% women candidates.

It is my firm belief that this will benefit Irish political life, and indeed Irish society as a whole. Yes, there will naturally be teething problems, but this necessary acceleration of equality will benefit us all in the coming years."[14]

Taxes on property and water charges

As Minister, Hogan had responsibility for implementing a series of reforms as part of Ireland's agreement with the European Troika. In July 2011, he outlined plans for a €100 annual “household charge” that would become operable from January 2012 for two years, ahead of the introduction in 2014 of a full property tax based on site valuations. 250,000 households, some 14%, would be exempt from paying the charge. Hogan accepted that the tax would cause hardship to some families but presented it as the minimum possible charge he could have applied, saying it would cost “a modest €2 per week”.[15]

Hogan also confirmed that a new State utility company, Irish Water, would be set up in the autumn to oversee the process of installing meters in all domestic dwellings. That would pave the way, he said, for domestic water charges in two years' time based on household usage. The new charges would be the first local taxes to be introduced for more than 30 years, since the then Fianna Fáil government led by Jack Lynch abolished domestic rates in 1977.[15]

European Commissioner

On 10 September 2014 Hogan was nominated by Jean-Claude Juncker to be the European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development [16][17] taking office on 1 November. As Commissioner, Hogan stipulated that his priorities would be to "ensuring that rural development spending is well integrated into jobs- and growth-generating investment strategies at national and regional level",[18] contribute to the jobs, growth and investment package to be presented within the first three months of the mandate of the new Commission. In addition, he stated that he would:

(i) Implement the recently agreed CAP reform so as to maximise its contribution to the EU jobs and growth agenda, paying particular attention to the principle of subsidiarity and to issues linked to the flexibility and simplification of CAP instruments.

(ii) Within the first twelve months, focus on reviewing the potential for further simplification in the areas of direct payments and in particular as regards greening, rural development, quality policy and the fruit and vegetables scheme.

(iii) Renew efforts in the agricultural sector to contribute to energy efficiency and emissions reductions, also in the light of progress on climate action at EU and global level.

(iv) Regularly monitor the benefit of action at EU level, reviewing the effectiveness of spending programmes and reporting back on the performance of the programmes and the results achieved.

(v) Supervise expenditure in line with the financial regulation and the principles of sound financial management, always protecting the EU budget from fraud.

(vi) Contribute to the 2016 review of the Multiannual Financial Framework by identifying ways of further increasing the focus of the CAP on jobs, growth, investment and competitiveness.

First six months

Within his first year of becoming Commissioner, Hogan launched an active agenda to alleviate pressures within the agriculture market, brought on by the Russian embargo and depressed international commodity prices. This included a €500 million assistance programme to support producers in the European Union so as to reduce difficulties within the dairy and pigmeat sectors.[19] In addition to this package, he led proposals to improve a school scheme to offer free fruit and milk to children throughout the EU and pushed for the simplification of the Common Agriculture Policy.[20]


As part of his agenda to streamline and simplify the CAP, Hogan expressed a desire to "make the CAP simpler, and fairer, for farmers and agri-businesses".

In November 2015, he presented an expanded package of simplification measures to the Council of EU Agriculture Ministers, announcing:

  • increased flexibility in mapping requirements for Ecological Focus Areas;
  • an extension of the deadline for the aid applications; and
  • more flexibility on eligibility conditions for voluntary coupled support.

He also announced a number of practical improvements, such as:

  • reducing the number of on-the-spot checks through better sampling methods;
  • an increased level of preventive preliminary cross-checks, and
  • the possibility of modifying parcel declarations for greening after submission.

Food chain

Hogan has made it a policy priority to improve the position of farmers in the food chain.

He noted that "too many EU Member States are faced with the issue of farmers being forced by market developments to sell at lower and lower prices. We need to do our utmost to strengthen their position in the food chain. "At EU level, President Juncker acknowledged in last year's State of the Union speech that this issue needs to be addressed. His comments were not accidental and they recognised the importance of this issue in agriculture."[21]

Hogan is working closely with Commissioners Bienkowska and Vestager to advance the issue of fairness and sustainability in the food chain.

The Commission is conducting an in-depth analysis of the whole food chain, which will focus on market structure as well as the resulting market behaviour and its impacts from farm gates to retailers' shelves.

Hogan also established the EU Agri-markets task force.[22]

This new body is examining ways to strengthen the position of the farmer in the food chain and is chaired by former Dutch Agriculture Minister Cees Veerman.

Diplomatic Offensive

In 2016, Hogan embarked on a "diplomatic offensive" to build trade relations with non-EU states throughout the world and build new markets for European producers.[23] So far, this has involved trade missions abroad to Mexico and Colombia, with trips to Japan, China and Kazakhstan scheduled for later in the year. Trade delegations of EU agri-businesses have accompanied the Commissioner on these trips to build relationships with third country counterparts.

Mercosur trade deal

In 2019 a free trade deal with Mercosur caused controversy in Ireland, with the farm lobby fearing competition from low-cost South American meat imports. Some of Hogan's Fine Gael colleagues suggested denying his expected reappointment to the incoming commission because of his involvement in the negotiations.[24]

Personal life

Hogan is separated with one adult son.


On 24 August 2011, during the Oireachtas golf outing, ex-Taoiseach John Bruton's former administrator, Anne O'Connell, alleged that Hogan made a lewd comment in her direction. She immediately complained in writing to the Taoiseach Enda Kenny. Hogan issued a letter of apology a few days later saying: "I unreservedly apologise for those remarks which were totally inappropriate in a personal sense. . . It was intended in a jocose and private basis and certainly not intended as insulting."[25]


  1. "Profile: Phil Hogan". RTÉ.ie. Retrieved 20 March 2016.
  2. Collins, Stephen (2007). Nealon's Guide to the 30th Dáil and 23rd Seanad. Dublin.
  3. "Phil Hogan – farm fixer". POLITICO. Retrieved 20 March 2016.
  4. "Phil Hogan". Oireachtas Members Database. Retrieved 18 September 2019.
  5. "Phil Hogan Biography" (PDF).
  6. "Phil Hogan On His Resignation". RTÉ Archives. Retrieved 20 March 2016.
  7. "Phil Hogan, EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, to participate in EDD15". Archived from the original on 30 March 2016.
  8. "The line of leaders since FitzGerald". The Irish Times. Retrieved 20 March 2016.
  9. "Enda Kenny reveals new Cabinet". RTÉ.ie. Retrieved 20 March 2016.
  10. O'Connell, Hugh. "Hogan unveils 'the most radical reform of local government in 100 years'". Retrieved 20 March 2016.
  11. "'Long overdue' reform of local Government to save €420m -". Retrieved 20 March 2016.
  12. "Hogan says local government reform will save €420m". RTÉ.ie. Retrieved 20 March 2016.
  13. "Local authority plan 'to save €420m'". The Irish Times. Retrieved 20 March 2016.
  14. "Women for Election – promoting political participation - European Commission". European Commission. Retrieved 20 March 2016.
  15. "Minister defends new €100 charge ahead of full property tax". The Irish Times. Retrieved 20 March 2016.
  16. "Hogan confirmed as EU Agriculture Commissioner". RTÉ.ie. Retrieved 20 March 2016.
  17. "Phil Hogan: I'm honoured to be selected as Europe's new Commissioner -". Retrieved 20 March 2016.
  18. "Hogan promises MEPs he will simplify CAP". Retrieved 31 March 2016.
  19. "EU throws lifeline to farmers as protests bring Brussels to a standstill". Retrieved 20 March 2016.
  20. "EU to simplify farm payments amid 'climate of fear', says Phil Hogan". Retrieved 20 March 2016.
  21. "Speech by Commissioner Phil Hogan at ICOS Annual Conference 2015" (PDF).
  22. "European Commission - PRESS RELEASES - Press release - European Commission activates exceptional measures to further support European farmers in crisis". Retrieved 20 March 2016.
  23. "Phil Hogan's 'diplomatic offensive' for global sales of EU food". Retrieved 20 March 2016.
  24. O’Connell, Hugh; Ryan, Philip (4 July 2019). "Hogan's EU job in jeopardy as FG fears beef deal fallout". Irish Independent. Retrieved 4 July 2019.
  25. Kealy, Willie. "Phil Hogan sorry for lewd remark -". Independent. Retrieved 20 March 2016.
Preceded by
Martin Gibbons
(Progressive Democrats)
Fine Gael Teachta Dála for Carlow–Kilkenny
Succeeded by
Bobby Aylward
(Fianna Fáil)
Political offices
Preceded by
Noel Dempsey
Minister of State for the Office of Public Works
Succeeded by
Jim Higgins
Preceded by
Éamon Ó Cuív
as Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government
Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government
Succeeded by
Alan Kelly
Preceded by
Máire Geoghegan-Quinn
Irish European Commissioner
Preceded by
Dacian Cioloș
European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development
Succeeded by
Janusz Wojciechowski
Preceded by
Cecilia Malmström
European Commissioner for Trade
Party political offices
Preceded by
Jim Higgins
Chairman of the Fine Gael parliamentary party
Succeeded by
Pádraic McCormack
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