Margrethe Vestager

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Margrethe Vestager
Vestager 520 2012-04-16.jpg
European Commissioner for Competition
Assumed office
1 November 2014
President Jean-Claude Juncker
Preceded by Joaquín Almunia
Deputy Prime Minister of Denmark
In office
3 October 2011 – 2 September 2014
Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt
Preceded by Lars Barfoed
Succeeded by Morten Østergaard
Minister of the Economy and Interior
In office
3 October 2011 – 2 September 2014
Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt
Preceded by Brian Mikkelsen (Economy)
Bertel Haarder (Interior)
Succeeded by Morten Østergaard
Leader of the Social Liberal Party
In office
15 June 2007 – 2 September 2014
Preceded by Marianne Jelved
Succeeded by Morten Østergaard
Minister of Education
In office
23 March 1998 – 27 November 2001
Prime Minister Poul Nyrup Rasmussen
Preceded by Ole Vig Jensen
Succeeded by Ulla Tørnæs
Minister of Ecclesiastical Affairs
In office
23 March 1998 – 21 December 2000
Prime Minister Poul Nyrup Rasmussen
Preceded by Ole Vig Jensen
Succeeded by Johannes Lebech
Personal details
Born (1968-04-13) 13 April 1968 (age 49)
Glostrup, Denmark
Political party Social Liberal Party
Spouse(s) Thomas Jensen
Children 3
Alma mater University of Copenhagen

Margrethe Vestager (Danish pronunciation: [mɑgʁæːˀdə ˈvɛsdæːˀɐ]; born 13 April 1968) is a Danish politician, who is currently serving as the European Commissioner for Competition. She served as a Member of Parliament (Folketing) from 20 November 2001 until 2 September 2014, representing the Danish Social Liberal Party (Radikale Venstre). She was the political leader of her party from 2007 to 2014, and served as Minister of Economic Affairs and the Interior from 2011 to 2014. She has been described as "the rich world’s most powerful trustbuster".[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Vestager was born in Glostrup, Zealand, a daughter of Lutheran ministers Hans Vestager and Bodil Tybjerg.[1][2] She matriculated from Varde Upper Secondary school in 1986. She studied at the University of Copenhagen, graduating in 1993 with a degree in Economics.[3]

Vestager speaks Danish, English and French.[4]

Political career[edit]

Vestager has been a professional politician since the age of 21, when she was appointed to the central board and executive committee of the SLP and its European Affairs Committee, and shortly afterwards as National Chairwoman of the Party.

In 2001, Vestager was elected to the Danish Parliament, becoming Chairwoman of its Parliamentary Group in 2007. She was appointed Minister of Education and Ecclesiastical Affairs in 1998.

On 15 June 2007 Vestager secured election as her Party's parliamentary group leader in the Folketing, replacing Marianne Jelved.[5] When Denmark’s Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen called an early election in 2011 after failing to secure majority lawmaker backing for his economic stimulus package, Vestager’s Social Liberals and the Conservative People’s Party formed a political alliance, pledging to work together no matter which political bloc would win the election.[6]

Minister for Economic and Interior Affairs of Denmark, 2011-2014[edit]

From 2011 until 2014 Vestager served as Minister for Economic and Interior Affairs in the three-party Social Democrat-led coalition government of Helle Thorning-Schmidt. Having forced through deep cuts in unemployment benefits of Denmark's generous social welfare system after the country's economy narrowly escaped recession in 2012,[7] she was at one point considered by Danish media and pollsters as the most powerful person in government, even above Thorning-Schmidt.[8]

In her time in office, chaired the meetings of economic and finance ministers of the European Union (ECOFIN) during Denmark’s presidency of the Council of Ministers in 2012.[9] In this capacity, she announced that the European Union would cede two of its seats on the board of the International Monetary Fund to emerging economies under a new power-sharing scheme for international financial institutions.[10] She also worked closely with Jean-Claude Juncker to salvage Europe’s financial sector and forge a European Banking Union.[11]

Between 2011 and 2014, Vestager led Denmark’s campaign against Basel III liquidity rules, arguing in favor of allowing banks to use 75 percent more in covered bonds to fill liquidity buffers than allowed under Basel III rules; at the time; Denmark’s $550 billion mortgage-backed covered bond market, part of the country’s two-century-old mortgage system,[12] was the world’s largest per capita.[13] Meanwhile, in 2013 she repeatedly ruled out slowing down steps toward stricter requirements for systemically important lenders and reiterated her stance that banks won’t get tax breaks to help them through the transition caused by regulatory reform.[14]

In May 2014, Vestager presented a growth package designed to drag Denmark’s economy – at the time Scandinavia’s weakest – out of its crisis, raising the country’s structural output by 6 billion kroner ($1.1 billion) and cut costs for companies by 4 billion kroner in 2020 through 89 measures to improve the business climate and boost employment.[15]

European Commissioner for Competition, 2014–present[edit]

On 31 August 2014, Prime Minister Thorning-Schmidt nominated Vestager as Denmark's EU Commissioner in the Juncker Commission.[16] Despite her repeated denials of campaigning for the Environment portfolio,[17][18] eventually she was designated the Competition dossier in the Juncker Commission.[19] On 3 October 2014, she won the European Parliament's backing following her confirmation hearing.[20][21]

In her confirmation hearings, Vestager said she favored reaching settlement of cases before they come to her for a final executive judgment, usually for reduced fines or negotiated concessions from the companies.[22]

Like her predecessor, Joaquín Almunia, Vestager has since been focusing on state aid cases.[2] Within few months in the office, she brought antitrust charges against Google; Almunia had initially opened the investigation into Google in 2010, and had reached a settlement deal with Google by 2014 but was unable to convince the European Commission to accept it before his term ended. Vestager inherited Almunia's case but has shown greater desire to continue pursuing Google/Alphabet over the alleged antitrust violations.[3] Also, she initiated investigations into the tax affairs of Fiat, Starbucks, Amazon.com and Apple Inc. under competition rules.[4] In 2014, she launched proceedings against Gazprom, one of Europe's main gas suppliers, over allegations of breaching EU antitrust rules by putting in place artificial barriers to trade with eight European countries: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Bulgaria.[5]

In January 2015, Vestager ordered Cyprus Airways to pay back over 65 million euros in illegal state aid received in 2012 and 2013 as part of a restructuring package; as a consequence, Cyprus suspended operations at its flag carrier resulting in 550 job losses and reduced competition.[23][24]

In July 2017, Alphabet (formerly Google) announced it had agreed to pay a $2,700,000,000 fine based on the European Commission claim that Google breached antitrust rules.[25]

Other activities[edit]

  • Royal Greenland, Member of the Board of Advisors (2004-2007)[26]
  • UNICEF Denmark, Member of the Executive Committee (2007-2011)[26]
  • Trilateral Commission, Member (2010-2011)[26]
  • Blaagaards Seminarium, Chairwoman of the Board (2006-2009)[26]
  • University College Copenhagen, Member of the Board (2006-2009)[26]
  • Copenhagen Business School, Institute for Management, Politics, and Philosophy, Chairwoman of the Advisory Board (2003-2008)[27]
  • Trilateral Commission, Member of the European Group
  • On 15 February 2017 she received a doctorate honoris causa of the KU Leuven for her "firm policy on competition and government support within the European Union." and especially for her "specific attention to the ethical dimension of the behaviour of companies and governments." [28]

Political positions[edit]

European integration[edit]

In 2013, Vestager held that “[in] our experience it’s impossible to pursue Danish interests without being close to the core of Europe. You don’t have influence or produce results if you’re standing on the sideline.”[29]

Personal life[edit]

Vestager’s husband is a high-school level maths-and-philosophy teacher. They have three daughters, Maria, Rebecca, and Ella. Her eldest daughter is preparing for medical university 2016 entry. She serves as an inspiration for the main character in Borgen, who tries to juggle family life and politics.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Is Margrethe Vestager championing consumers or her political career". The Economist. 14 September 2017. 
  2. ^ a b Margrethe Vestager Archived 2014-09-10 at the Wayback Machine. Folketinget.
  3. ^ a b Camesasca, Peter; Cole, Miranda; Geradin, Damien; Ysewyn, Johan (10 September 2014). "New EU Competition Commissioner--Margrethe Vestager". The National Law Review. Covington & Burling LLP. Retrieved 15 September 2014. 
  4. ^ a b c Danny Hakim (April 15, 2015), The Danish Politician Who Accused Google of Antitrust Violations New York Times.
  5. ^ a b Vestager, Margrethe.
  6. ^ Josiane Kremer (August 28, 2011), Danish Conservatives, Social Liberals Form Pact, Berlingske Says Bloomberg Business.
  7. ^ Mette Fraende and Erik Matzen (December 13, 2012), Denmark sees painful recovery as economy stalls Reuters.
  8. ^ Foo Yun Chee and Julia Fioretti (September 10, 2014), Danish reformer gets EU antitrust stick; German to police the Internet Reuters.
  9. ^ Cynthia Kroet (August 31, 2014), Denmark nominates Vestager as European commissioner European Voice.
  10. ^ EU to cut IMF board seats in autumn- EU's Vestager Reuters, April 20, 2012.
  11. ^ Gaspard Sebag, Peter Levring and Aoife White (September 10, 2014), Denmark’s Vestager to Replace EU Antitrust Chief Almunia Bloomberg News.
  12. ^ Frances Schwartzkopff (December 6, 2013), Soros Venture Urges Denmark to Ignore EBA Covered Bond Plan Bloomberg Business.
  13. ^ Frances Schwartzkopff, Jim Brunsden and Peter Levring (June 13, 2014), Basel’s Liquidity Rules Ignored as EU Sides With Denmark Bloomberg Business.
  14. ^ Peter Levring (May 28, 2013), Banks Rebuked for Spin Tactics as Denmark Slams Sifi Pleas Bloomberg Business.
  15. ^ Peter Levring (May 8, 2014), Danish Government Unveils Plan to Help Economy Exit Crisis Bloomberg Business.
  16. ^ "Vestager træder ud af regeringen og bliver EU-kommissær" (in Danish). Danmarks Radio. 31 August 2014. 
  17. ^ "EXCLUSIVE: The Juncker team revealed". Retrieved 4 September 2014. 
  18. ^ "Vestager afviser rygter: Jeg skal ikke være miljøkommissær". Retrieved 4 September 2014. 
  19. ^ "The new structure of the Juncker Commission". Retrieved 10 September 2014. 
  20. ^ Robin Emmott (October 3, 2014), Denmark's Vestager wins backing as new EU antitrust head Reuters.
  21. ^ Paul Taylor (October 5, 2014), Juncker's team likely to survive EU power struggle Reuters.
  22. ^ Foo Yun Chee and Alastair Macdonald (September 23, 2014), New EU antitrust head not swayed by anti-Americanism, bullies Reuters.
  23. ^ Foo Yun Chee and Alastair Macdonald (January 9, 2015), Cyprus Airways closed down after EU state aid ruling Reuters.
  24. ^ Times of Malta (January 10, 2015), Cyprus Airways closed down after EU state aid ruling Times of Malta.
  25. ^ "European Commission fines Google $2.7B in antitrust ruling". 
  26. ^ a b c d e Margrethe Vestager: Declaration of interests Archived 2015-04-18 at the Wayback Machine. European Commission.
  27. ^ Margarethe Vestager: Declaration of interests Archived 2015-04-18 at the Wayback Machine. European Commission.
  28. ^ "Patron Saint's Day 2017: interviews with the new honorary doctors". 
  29. ^ Peter Levring (January 23, 2013), U.K. Must ‘Walk Path Alone’ on EU Vote, Denmark Says Bloomberg Business.

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by
Grethe Erichsen
Chair of the Social Liberal Party
1993–1997
Succeeded by
Johannes Lebech
Preceded by
Marianne Jelved
Leader of the Social Liberal Party in the Folketing
2007–2011
Succeeded by
Marianne Jelved
Leader of the Social Liberal Party
2007–2014
Succeeded by
Morten Østergaard
Political offices
Preceded by
Ole Vig Jensen
Minister of Ecclesiastical Affairs
1998–2000
Succeeded by
Johannes Lebech
Minister of Education
1998–2001
Succeeded by
Ulla Tørnæs
Preceded by
Lars Barfoed
Deputy Prime Minister of Denmark
2011–2014
Succeeded by
Morten Østergaard
Preceded by
Brian Mikkelsen
as Minister of the Economy
Minister of the Economy and Interior
2011–2014
Preceded by
Bertel Haarder
as Minister of the Interior
Preceded by
Connie Hedegaard
Danish European Commissioner
2014–present
Incumbent
Preceded by
Joaquín Almunia
European Commissioner for Competition
2014–present