The new European Commission (EC) has reappointed Margrethe Vestager as antitrust chief in what some are calling a surprise move, according to reports.
Vestager’s term was expected to end with elections for the European Parliament and the new European Commission taking office.
She is widely seen as a strict and meticulous enforcer that has taken on Big Tech companies like Apple, Facebook, Google and Amazon without fear, and has imposed harsh penalties on them, as well as taking them to task for perceived abuses of power.
She will also take on a new initiative called “Europe for for the digital age,” but the details of that particular endeavor were not released.
“Digitalization has a huge impact on the way we live, work, and communicate,” European Commission President-Elect Ursula von der Leyen said about Vestager’s role. “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.”
Under Vestager, Europe has been a leader in the charge against Big Tech. She’s been at the head of a number of newsworthy events, including the investigation of Apple over Irish tax breaks, which discovered that the company avoided upwards of $14.5 billion in taxes.
She was also vocal against the Facebook acquisition of WhatsApp, saying that Facebook lied to get it done. Also under her purview, Qualcomm faced a $1.23 billion fine for a deal with Apple that shut out competitors.
When it comes to Google, no other company can match its experience with Vestager, who brought three antitrust fines against Google. One was for $2.72 billion for abusing powers in its search engine, one was for $5 billion for taking advantage of Android’s market power and one was for $1.69 billion for favoring itself in its ad network