A SCARIFF MAN has taken on a new role as the Chief of Staff for the European Commission President.

Fifty five year old Anthony Whelan has stepped up into the high-profile post on a temporary basis and will serve as Ursula von der Leyen’s chief of staff until early June.

Björn Seibert announced earlier this month that he was taking temporary leave from the post, to run Dr von der Leyen’s campaign to secure a second term as commission president.

Anthony joined von der Leyen’s team in late 2019 as her adviser on digital policy. He has been tasked with dealing with large tech multinationals and holding meetings with executives from Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Stripe and Meta. He also held meetings with representatives of telecom companies including Huawei, Vodafone and Nokia, according to a register of senior EU officials’ meetings.

One of his roles in the cabinet had been to link in with Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s digital and competition commissioner, best known in Ireland for pursuing Apple over its tax bill.

Before joining her cabinet, he had been the commission’s director of electronic communications networks and services. He previously worked as head of cabinet for Neelie Kroes, a Dutch politician who served as commissioner for competition and for the digital agenda, between 2008 and 2013.

Originally from Scariff, he is a former pupil of Cistercian College Roscrea, the Tipperary fee-paying school. After school he studied law in Trinity College Dublin, where he was heavily involved with the Hist debating society. He trained as a barrister but returned to Trinity for a stint as a lecturer in public law in his mid-twenties.

His move to work within the EU institutions happened as a result of former Supreme Court judge Nial Fennelly’s appointment as an advocate general in the European Court of Justice. After five years he joined the legal service of the commission, leading on a high profile case involving Microsoft in 2006, where the tech giant was fined a record €500 million over competition breaches.

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If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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