Look out, it's 'H' from Brussels: New Euro digi-czars take post

Who are they and what will they be doing? We take a look


It’s official. Europe’s new digital dream team will feature Andrus “The Robot” Ansip and gaffe-prone Günther “H” Oettinger.*

Data protection commander-in-chief will be Vera Jourova (who also gets the pick 'n' mix portfolio of justice, consumers and gender equality), while Margrethe Vestager will do battle with Google under the competition portfolio.

On Wednesday the European Parliament gave Jean-Claude Juncker’s Commission the thumbs-up. There were no surprises with the big four in tech. Ansip had impressed MEPs at his confirmation hearing before the European Parliament. The feeling in Brussels and Strasbourg was that he has a reasonable grasp of digital matters.

As veep for the Digital Single Market Andrus Ansip, a former prime minister of Estonia, will manage a team of commissioners, though perhaps with more substance than style – he is known as “The Robot” back home.

“H” Oettinger has received markedly less praise since the announcement of his candidature. He slipped up by lambasting celebrities who’d had photographs stolen from cloud services (“We can’t save you from your own stupidity”) - apparently not understanding that Apple's iCloud service is nominally private - and his comments that he “uses the internet every day” were widely ridiculed.

Vera Jourova is the Czech minister for regional development and began her political career in 2003. However, she lacks gravitas and was so woolly in her grilling before the European Parliament that she had to answer a second set of written questions. She faces a tough challenge in getting the new EU Data Protection Regulation approved by national leaders. The fear in Brussels is that her inexperience means she may be easily swayed by lobbyists.

The final pick of the digital bunch is Margrethe Vestager, the Danish deputy prime minister and minister for economic and interior affairs who has picked up the EC's competition commissioner brief. She charmed her way through her Parliamentary hearing, eating chocolate and saying Google had questions to answer, but that she wouldn’t pre-judge the case until she had all the facts.

New EC president Jean-Claude Juncker had to do some tinkering at the edges in order to get his team approved, reassigning commissioners for sport, citizenship and pharmaceuticals, as well as giving “space” to Internal Market Commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska, rather than the controversial fire-walking shaman Violeta Bulc.

The new team of commissioners, which was approved by MEPs by 423 votes to 209 (67 abstentions) will take office on 1 November. ®

Bootnote

Word was sent from on high to new EC underlings that the H in Oettinger's first name must always be included. We wouldn't want Reg readers to make the same mistakes as lowly EU wage-slaves and impugn the commish's name.


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