Breach Coronavirus Rules, Lose Job In EU

Phil Hogan was the European Union’s Trade Commission until yesterday. That’s when he resigned because he ran afoul of social distancing rules. He was on the job for less than a year. And yesterday, he was Neil Ferguson’d. Ferguson is the British epidemiologist who was one of the first to model the death toll of the new SARS coronavirus and was later demoted from coronavirus scientist fame when it was found he breached coronavirus social distancing orders in Britain to meet with his girlfriend after warning for weeks that millions of people would die unless locked inside their houses.

Hogan didn’t break any laws. But top officials that don’t follow coronavirus mandates…that’s just a bad look. So he stepped down from his 9-month post, saying he deeply regrets “that my trip to Ireland – the country that I have been so proud to represent as a public servant for most of my adult life — caused such concern, unease and upset. I have always tried to comply with all relevant Covid-19 regulations in Ireland and had understood that I had met with all relevant public health guidelines, particularly following confirmation of a negative Covid-19 test. I reiterate my heartfelt apology to the Irish people for the mistakes I made during my visit.”

He sent his resignation letter as EU Trade Commissioner to the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, on Wednesday.

The ruckus started last week when Hogan was spotted attending an Oireachtas Golf Society party in Clifden with 80 people. His movements to and from the crowded event irked many in Ireland who are banned from having private gatherings even smaller than that due to coronavirus restrictions.

Someone from Ireland will likely take Hogan’s spot.

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Politico Europe reported yesterday that David O’Sullivan, formerly the highest-ranking official in the Trade Commission, could be a possible replacement. Other rumors circulating have Catherine Day, who is now in O’Sullivan’s position, will take over.

Hogan and the Trump Administration have butted heads on numerous occasions. The Trump team considers Germany almost as bad as China in terms of trade within the collection of EU member states, anyway. And so the U.S. and European trade negotiators have had a rough four years. They announced a small agreement last week for the EU to eliminate tariffs on American lobsters and for the U.S. to reduce tariffs on a variety of European goods.

Hogan touted a strong relationship with Lighthizer during a webinar hosted by the EU delegation in the U.S. on Wednesday and said that the recent tariff accord could set the stage for deeper deals.

“We are very good partners in the United States. I hope that the United States can do better to be good partners to the European Union,” he said during yesterday’s webinar. “Ambassador Lighthizer and I have worked very hard since I got this job to try and refresh the relationship and understand the problems on each side and try and find solutions.”

The U.S. and EU must work closely together on global issues, especially in light of the pandemic, Hogan added, citing a need to “make progress on plurilateral agreements, make progress on standards, make progress on the WTO reform.”and argued the tariff accord between the two major economic powers could set the stage for additional agreements.

“We are very good partners in the United States. I hope that the United States can do better to be good partners to the European Union. I say that, I suppose, a little bit tongue-in-cheek because we have recently concluded a tariff-reduction deal,” he said, adding that the lobster deal wasn’t exactly a banner one, but that it might signal the beginning of fresh trade talks.

The U.S. and EU must work closely together on global issues, he added, citing a need to reform the World Trade Organization from its current stuck-in-the-mud ways.

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