Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager is considered to be one of the most likely contenders for the role of Commission President from the ALDE party’s ‘Team Europe’. Vestager has been a member of the Danish Social Liberal Party “Radikale Venstre” since 1989, when she first ran for Parliament aged 21. She was not elected until 2001, when her political career took off. In 2007, Vestager was elected leader of her Party which she remained until moving to Brussels in 2014. She served as Minister of Economic Affairs from 2011 – 2014 during which she pushed through tough austerity measures to get Denmark through the economic decline after the financial crisis.
As Commissioner for Competition, Vestager is known for her tough stance on tax avoidance, mergers and anti-trust cases. She has taken on some of the world’s largest companies, including GAFA (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon), which has arguably made her feared in Silicon Valley. Throughout her term as Commissioner, Vestager impressed French President Emmanuel Macron who was allegedly hoping to convince her to take the role of lead candidate for ALDE. Traditionally EU Commissioners are sent to Brussels by their governments. Vestager’s party currently sits in opposition, making it unlikely for her government to support her nomination. At the same time, Macron famously opposes the Parliament’s system of Spitzenkandidaten, and would therefore have had a hard time putting Vestager forward as a single lead candidate.
A likely coalition between Macron’s La République en Marche! and the ALDE group has contributed to Vestager’s nomination for Team Europe, but her talent has not gone unnoticed by other political leaders related to the ALDE group. The Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte called Vestager a “principled politician who would be accomplished at any job” and said he would be content with her leading in any situation.
Key policy priorities:
Within Team Europe’s priorities, Vestager has said the following are key for her:
Cyber security - Fight against hybrid international and geopolitical threats.
Climate change - The support of international cooperation on the environment to meet the Paris Agreement and to set ambitious future targets backing moves to foster research and development in technologies.
Immigration - A new EU asylum and migration system that is fit for purpose based on a long-term vision.
Jobs for the new generation - More investment in education, research and innovation to produce a smarter workforce for the future.