Not content with continually fining US tech companies in her role as European Competition Commissioner, Margrethe Vestager is now in charge of all things digital too.
The extra responsibility was bestowed upon her by new EC President Ursula von der Leyen, who was given the role to allow her predecessor Jean-Claude Juncker to devote himself entirely to Oenology. Von der Leyen had had an early cabinet reshuffle in which she gave her favourite EVPs some extra work on top of their day jobs.
So Frans Timmermans gets a bunch of green stuff on top of his work covering regulation, rule of law, etc, Valdis Dombrovskis, adds some kind of watered-down socialist agenda to his normal work keeping an eye on the financial side of things and Vestager is being asked to keep a special eye on the entire digital sector, which is pretty much what she had already been doing as competition commissioner anyway.
“Digitalisation has a huge impact on the way we live, work and communicate,” said von der Leyen, showing the kind of vision that propelled her to the top of Europe. “In some fields, Europe has to catch up — like for business to consumers — while in others we are frontrunners — such as in business to business. We have to make our single market fit for the digital age, we need to make the most of artificial intelligence and big data, we have to improve on cybersecurity and we have to work hard for our technological sovereignty.”
This will have been the last thing the likes of Google and Facebook wanted to hear as their own country gears up to punish them for abusing their dominant positions in various digital markets. Vestager couldn’t have hoped for a better start to her new role than to be able to watch 50 AGs go after Google, and will presumably watching closely for top tips when she gets her turn.