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  1. ITV Report

Ireland's Phil Hogan nominated as trade negotiator by European Commission president-elect Ursula von der Leyen

European Commission president-elect Ursula von der Leyen, who is to take the helm at the European Union's executive branch in November, has finalised her team for the coming five years.

Her proposed list includes former Italian prime minister, Paolo Gentiloni while Ireland's EU commissioner Phil Hogan has been nominated as the European Union's next trade negotiator.

Mr Hogan will play a central role in overseeing the future trade talks with the UK after Brexit.

Mr Hogan said he was "very pleased" to be nominated for the chief role.

"I am very much looking forward to starting in this exciting and challenging portfolio and to supporting President-elect von der Leyen in her pursuit of a strong, open and fair trade agenda through which Europe's role as a global leader can be strengthened."

Irish premier Leo Varadkar congratulated Mr Hogan, describing his appointment as a "very positive development" for Ireland.

Phil Hogan with Michel Barnier. Credit: AP

Ms Von der Leyen, who will replace Jean-Claude Juncker, almost achieved perfect gender equality in her appointments with 14 men and 13 women for her commission, which proposes laws for the 28-country bloc and ensures they are put into practice. Her team must be approved by the European Parliament.

Britain, which is scheduled to leave the EU on October 31, has not been assigned a commissioner, although speaking to reporters on Tuesday she appeared to think Brexit may not happen.

"I know Phil Hogan as an excellent very fair negotiator and this is what I expect from him as a trade commission. He will be fair, but determined.

Ursula von der Leyen making her announcement. Credit: AP

"The Brexit, should it happen, is not the end of something, but it's the beginning, of our future relationship."

Mr Hogan has previously described Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage and Jacob Rees-Moog "the three stooges" and the prime minister as an "unelected gambler".

Mairead McGuiness MEP, First Vice-President of the European Parliament told ITV News: "I've known Phil Hogan a long time, I know his style and it doesn't change. He speaks quite directly.

"But to some extend so does the prime minister Boris Johnson, so perhaps in a way, they're well balanced."