The question of Europe’s digital transformation has been a key topic for many of last the Commission confirmation hearings. By the end of the process, it was Margrethe Vestager, with the portfolio “A Europe Fit for the Digital Age” who managed to win the support of all but the conservative political groups in the European Parliament.
Vestager, the Commissioner for Competition and an Executive Vice President-designate, is seen as the one responsible for dragging colossal companies like Google and Facebook through lengthy court proceedings and later had them fined more than €8 billion on three different occasions. During her confirmation hearing, Vestager stated that in the event a global consensus on online tax rules cannot be reached, Europe will take the lead and impose its own rules on those firms.
US President Donald J. Trump has in the past accused Vestager of singling out American companies and has criticized her after she stated that she would thoroughly examine the role of US tech companies in people’s lives.
In her new mandate, Vestager will have to reconcile her roles leading the Competition Commission and Europe’s digital economy with tasks ranging from anti-trust enforcement to data protection. The Computer & Communications Industry Association has already called for the incoming EU leadership to design smart policies that will ensure a balance between taking full advantage of the digital era and safeguards in order to encourage Europe’s digital sovereignty and decision-making autonomy.
Vestager’s top priorities also include fostering a more effective competition with global rivals and the potential blocking of foreign acquisitions in strategic technological sectors through the creation of a model based on the specific needs of the EU.
She has, thus far, refused to answer how this model will assist local firms to join the global arena of competition and exactly how European consumers will be protected from market abuses.
Vestager did address the issue of individuals’ protection, saying data management and data protection rules will ensure that technological progress and digital transformation will contribute to the needs society.