To the chagrin of the largest Silicon Valley tech giants and President Trump, EU anti-trust enforcer Margrethe Vestager will hold on to her position for another 5-year term under incoming European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, the FT reports.
The return of Vestager will almost certainly infuriate Washington, which has accused her of trying to hamper American firms’ ability to do business in Europe.
President Trump famously dubbed Vestager the “tax lady” and accused the Dane back in June of ‘hating the US’ during an interview with Fox Business.
During her first term, Vestager made a name for herself by pursuing high-profile crackdowns on US tech firms, including her multiple record fines for Google and her push for the Irish government to claw back taxes from Apple.
And over the next five years, Vestager will see her remit broadly expanded. In addition to covering all things anti-trust and anti-competitive, Vestager will also oversee Brussels’ digital policy in her additional role as executive vice-president of the new European Commission, not long after Europe published stringent user-privacy regulations known as the GDPR.
Von der Leyen said Vestager’s expanded portfolio of digital and competition issues was a “perfect combination.”
“There is a huge field in front of her. The only aspect that matters on portfolios is quality and experience. Margrethe Vestager has done an outstanding job as a commissioner for competition,” she added.
On Tuesday, von der Leyen announced the names of her 27-strong team, Reuters reports. She emphasized Europe’s leadership in combating climate change – including passing its own “Green Deal”, while combating technological threats and responding to a “growing unease” among younger Europeans. The incoming EC president emphasized that her team would take on critical “geopolitical” issues, suggesting that the European Commission will be playing a greater role in world affairs, whether the world likes it or not.
“We will take bold action against climate change, build our partnership with the United States, define our relations with a more self-assertive China and be a reliable neighbor, for example to Africa,” she said.
In addition to Vestager, one of the other bold-faced names to join von der Leyen is Ireland’s Phil Hogan, who will be the Commission’s point-person on trade. This will eventually involve negotiating new trade pacts with the EU, and possibly the US if President Trump decides to slap auto tariffs on the Continent.
Ursula von der Leyen
Former Italian Prime Minsiter Paolo Gentiloni will serve as the commissioner in charge of the economy at a time when Europe is on the cusp of sliding into a recession, and as Germany reportedly contemplates introducing a “shadow budget” that could unleash badly needed fiscal stimulus.
However, Gentiloni could soon find himself in an awkward position as he and former Latvian Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis will be tasked with maintaining economic discipline throughout the bloc, including with the Continent’s third-largest economy, Italy. Though Matteo Salvini and his League party have been ousted from Italy’s ruling coalition, the lefti-wing anti-establishment Five Star Movement could still seek to expand Italy’s budget deficit beyond what the European Unions guidelines will allow.
SJWs will appreciate the fact that von der Leyen’s team is roughly gender balanced, with 13 women and 14 men. Though perhaps she could have offered even more balance by including one or two officials who reject the gender binary.