Interview JANUARY 2020 www.irishfarmersmonthly.com Deep roots to Hogan’s trade credentials Matt O’Keeffe caught up with EU Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan recently in Kilkenny, where he discussed the challenges ahead for 2020. With a full agenda of trade issues facing him, one might have thought that Phil Hogan would not find time to reflect on his farming roots. Not so, as a group of Kilkenny farmers found out last month. The successors of the committee which established Kilkenny Cooperative Creamery back in 1916 gathered at the original site of the Creamery to unveil a plaque marking the event. The newly appointed European Commissioner for Trade, Phil Hogan, was present to perform the unveiling. In his comments, Big Phil made clear his reasons for attending: “It was a great honour to be involved in remembering all of those people who established a very successful dairy cooperative in the area. Kilkenny Coop reflected everything positive about local and Irish farming down through the past century. My grandfather, Philip Hogan and my late father Tom, (known locally as Long Tom) were both members of Kilkenny Coop and drew milk churns to the local creamery by pony and trap, horse and cart and by tractor and trailer before bulk collections started, so I have very positive memories of the role of Kilkenny Coop in the lives of the farmers of Tullaroan and Kilkenny.” ahead: “There are lots of problems and instability around the world. People really don’t know from one day to the next what will happen in terms of tariffs and potential trade wars and are misinformed frequently by random social media messaging which adds nothing but confusion and uncertainty to global trade. It’s going to be a big challenge during 2020 to get like-minded countries to sit down and engage in positive dialogue to solve problems rather than in confrontation. This is the objective of the European Union and I will be centrally involved in attempting to open discussion with the United States and other countries to see how we can improve trade relations and develop a better understanding that trade wars ultimately don’t work for anybody.” Kindred spirits The recently published biography of Peter Sutherland, a predecessor of Phil Hogan on the European Commission, was a topic of conversation in this interview: “It’s on my reading list for Christmas. Peter and I met several times over the years. As well as playing a huge role in eliminating anti-competitive practices in his time on the Commission, Peter was also an iconic figure in world trade, especially as the chairman of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). We discussed the role of trade and, in particular, how it should be a force for progress in the 10 Tackling trade problems The Commissioner described his initial weeks as Trade Commissioner as “full on” and outlined the challenges