Hill resigns from Commission, heralding 'new phase' in wake of Brexit

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Jonathan Hill has resigned as European commissioner for financial stability in the wake of the UK’s decision to leave the European Union (EU).

Hill, who in 2014 won the coveted position as commissioner for financial stability, financial services and the Capital Markets Union, said he was “very disappointed” with the outcome of the vote, which saw 51.9% ballots cast backing a decision to depart the EU.

In a statement released on 25 June, the former leader of the House of Lords, the UK’s upper chamber, said he had agreed his departure with Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the Commission, in discussions several weeks ago.

“As we move to a new phase, I don’t believe it is right I should carry on as the British commissioner as though nothing had happened,” Hill said. 

“At the same time, there needs to be an orderly handover, so I have said I will work with him to make sure that happens in the weeks ahead.”

Valdis Dombrovskis, the former Latvian prime minister who is now a Commission vice-president for the euro, has assumed responsibility for Hill’s portfolio.

Hill struck a defiant note in his statement, continuing to emphasise the importance of the UK’s membership of the EU.

“I will leave it certain that, despite its frustrations, our membership was good for our place in the world and good for our economy.

“But what is done cannot be undone, and now we have to get on with making our new relationship with Europe work as well as possible.”

It is unclear whether Hill’s departure – or Dombrovskis’s joining the directorate general financial stability (DG-FISMA) – will delay the publication of the finalised IORP Directive. 

IPE has seen a final compromise draft dated 20 June, which compromises on full funding for cross-border pension funds.

Expectation among the industry last week was that the Commission would publish the finalised directive today (27 June).

A spokesman for DG-FISMA told IPE on Friday he would not comment on leaked drafts – nor would he be drawn on a publication schedule. 

Hill was well-liked in Brussels, and Gerard Riemen, director of the Dutch Pensions Federation, took to social media to lament the commissioner’s departure.

Riemen said Hill’s departure was “perhaps in the short-term the biggest setback for pension funds as a result of Brexit”.

Hill’s departure came a day after UK prime minister David Cameron announced he would resign as leader of the governing Conservative Party, triggering a leadership election set to conclude in October.

The opposition Labour Party was also thrown into disarray on Sunday morning, when the dismissal of its shadow foreign secretary, Hilary Benn, by opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn, triggered the resignation of a dozen further shadow ministers in an attempt to unseat Corbyn.


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