Chairman of Fine Gael’s Agricultural Affairs committee, Martin Heydon TD, has today (Wednesday) welcomed the announcement that Phil Hogan is to be the new European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development.

“This appointment is of huge importance to Ireland and is really welcome for our agriculture sector. I congratulate Phil Hogan on his achievement.

“It is a great honour for Ireland to be given such an important portfolio in the European Commission. The EU’s agriculture budget amounts to €60 billion, making up approximately 40% of the overall budget. There is no doubting how crucial agriculture is to EU Member States and this appointment puts Ireland at the heart of EU decision making.

“I would also see this appointment as recognition of the key role played by Ireland in the negotiation of the CAP during Ireland’s Presidency of the EU. It is a reflection of our excellent reputation in Europe as a country that gets things done.

“The Government knew how important this portfolio was to Ireland and I commend the Taoiseach for prioritising it. It was a significant mistake of the previous Government not to seek the agriculture portfolio in at such a crucial time leading up to the CAP negotiations. We fought for the agriculture position this time because we know the value of it to this country

“Phil Hogan has been a reforming Minister during his time in Cabinet, overhauling local government, introducing gender quotas to name but a few measures. I know that he will be a reforming and successful Commissioner and I wish him all the very best in the new role.”