Margrethe Vestager, the Danish politician known for her role in handling digital and antitrust portfolios, is set to make a comeback to the European Commission as the antitrust chief. Vestager, who successfully imposed significant antitrust penalties on tech giant Google, faced a setback in her bid to lead the European Investment Bank, losing out to Spain’s Nadia Calviño, reported Politico.
Vestager expressed her intention to resume her duties at the European Commission after withdrawing from the race, citing the political consensus achieved in favor of Calviño. The return of Vestager to her former role has sparked speculation about her agenda for the remaining 11 months of her term.
Antoine Winckler, a partner at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, commented on the situation, noting, “She has another 11 months; it is very short. She has a lot of very important state aid cases, merger control, the Alitalia thing.”
For followers of digital and competition matters, Vestager’s absence had been notable. She took leave just before the Commission unveiled its list of Big Tech gatekeepers as part of the Digital Markets Act, legislation she played a crucial role in developing. This act aims to empower enforcers to combat undesirable practices that antitrust cases had previously failed to fully address.
During Vestager’s absence, Thierry Breton, a French official who has positioned himself as the EU’s digital enforcer, assumed a significant role in the digital leadership vacuum. Breton has been actively engaged in addressing issues related to Big Tech and has confronted figures like Elon Musk’s company, X, over the dissemination of disinformation.
Vestager’s return is anticipated to bring fresh momentum to digital and antitrust initiatives within the European Commission, as she navigates through critical state aid cases, merger controls, and other pressing matters in the coming months, reported Politico.