Neelie Kroes

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Neelie Kroes
Neelie Kroes 2010-09-14.jpg
Neelie Kroes in 2010
European Commissioner for Digital Agenda
In office
9 February 2010 – 1 November 2014
President José Manuel Barroso
Preceded by Viviane Reding (Information Society and Media)
Succeeded by Günther Oettinger (Digital Economy and Society)
Andrus Ansip (Digital Single Market)
European Commissioner for Competition
In office
22 November 2004 – 9 February 2010
President José Manuel Barroso
Preceded by Mario Monti
Succeeded by Joaquín Almunia
Minister of Transport, Public Works and Water Management
In office
4 November 1982 – 7 November 1989
Prime Minister Ruud Lubbers
Preceded by Henk Zeevalking
Succeeded by Hanja Maij-Weggen
State Secretary for Transport, Public Works and Water Management
In office
28 December 1977 – 11 September 1981
Prime Minister Dries van Agt
Preceded by Michel van Hulten
Succeeded by Jaap van der Doef
Personal details
Born (1941-07-19) 19 July 1941 (age 74)
Rotterdam, Netherlands
Political party People's Party for Freedom and Democracy
Spouse(s) Wouter Jan Smit (1965–1991)
Bram Peper (1991–2003)
Alma mater Erasmus University
Religion Protestantism
Website Official site

Neelie Kroes (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈneːli ˈkrus]; born 19 July 1941) is a Dutch politician of the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD). She served as a Member of the House of Representatives from 3 August 1971 until 28 December 1977 when she became State Secretary for Transport, Public Works and Water Management from 28 December 1977 until 11 September 1981, in the Cabinet Van Agt I. And again a Member of the House of Representatives from 27 August 1981 until 4 November 1982, when she became Minister of Transport, Public Works and Water Management from 4 November 1982 until 7 November 1989, in the Cabinets Lubbers I and II.

After a long period of working on the board of commissioners of several multinational corporations she returned to active politics when she became the European Commissioner for Competition for the Barroso Commission. She continued to serve in the second term in the Barroso Commission as the new European Commissioner for Digital Agenda and became one of several Vice-Presidents of the European Commission.

Career before politics[edit]

Neelie Kroes was born on 19 July 1941 in Rotterdam, Netherlands. Her father owned the transport company Zwatra.[1]

Kroes attended a Protestant grammar school in Rotterdam. She continued to a Protestant high school. In 1958 she went to study economics at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam. In 1961, Kroes was praeses of the R.V.S.V. (the largest Rotterdam sorority). She was also elected as a member of the University Council. After obtaining her Master of Science in economics in 1965, she became a research fellow at the economic faculty at that university. During this period Kroes was involved in the women's organisation within the VVD. In this period she also was member of the board of heavy transporting company "ZwaTra", the company of her father.

Local and national politics[edit]

Neelie Kroes and Wim Simons in 1975

Neelie Kroes was elected member of the Rotterdam city council for the VVD since 1970.

In 1971 she was elected to the House of Representatives, forcing her to stop her fellowship. In parliament, she became spokesperson for education. She remained a member of parliament until 1977, when she became State Secretary for Transport, Public Works and Water Management in the First Van Agt Cabinet, responsible for Postal and Telephone Services and Transport. In 1981 she briefly returned to the House of Representatives, while her party, VVD, was in the opposition. In 1982 she returned to office in the First and Second Lubbers Cabinets, now as the Minister of Transport, Public Works and Water Management, a post that she held until 1989. As a minister she was responsible for the privatisation of the Postgiro (Postbank, initially a part of the PTT), the Post and Telephone Services, the Harbour Pilotage services, as well as the commissioning of the Betuwe Railway.

Kroes refused to become Minister of Defence in 1988.

During her tenure as minister, she was involved in the so-called TCR affair, about the illegal sale of warships. She had also a business relationship with a tank cleaning company (TCR), which illegally received governmental subsidies.

After national politics[edit]

After her time as minister Kroes became a member of the Rotterdam Chamber of Commerce, furthermore she served as a board member for Ballast Nedam (shipping), ABP-PGGM Capital Holdings N.V. (a joint subsidiary of the pension funds ABP and PGGM), NIB (an investment bank), McDonald's Netherlands, Nedlloyd, and Nederlandse Spoorwegen (the Dutch railroad company).

In 1991 she became chairperson of Nyenrode University, a private business school. During this period Kroes also was a member of the Advisory Board of the Prof.Mr. B.M. Teldersstichting, the scientific bureau of VVD.

According to her husband, Bram Peper, from 1993 to 2001 Kroes relied on astrologers and clairvoyants for personal and business advice. Until 2004 Kroes maintained an office in the castle of Jan-Dirk Paarlberg, a real estate mogul who was convicted to four and a half years in prison for money-laundering and extortion. One of the astrologers advising Kroes during that time was Lenie Drent, who had been providing business advice to Paarlberg for decades.[2]

Kroes has held and still holds many side offices, mainly in cultural and social organisations. She is chairperson of Poets of all Nations, the Delta Psychiatric Hospital and of the board of the Rembrandt House Museum. Also, she is was a member of several boards of commissioners, for instance at Nedlloyd (a shipping company) and Lucent Technologies (an information and communication technologies company).

European Commission[edit]

Commissioner for Competition[edit]

Neelie Kroes as European Commissioner for Competition in 2007

In 2004 Neelie Kroes was appointed the European Commissioner for Competition. Her nomination was heavily criticised because of her ties to big business and alleged involvement in shady arms deals. Kroes has tried to uphold her integrity; whenever she has to deal with issues concerning competition in branches of industry in which she used to be active as a board member, Commissioner McCreevy takes over her responsibilities. As of January 2006 this has happened in five cases.

As chairperson of Nyenrode Business University, Kroes awarded an honorary doctorate to Microsoft founder Bill Gates in 1996. As a European Commissioner for Competition one of her first tasks in 2004 was to oversee the sanctions against Microsoft by the European Commission, known as the European Union Microsoft competition case. This case resulted in the requirement to release documents to aid commercial interoperability and included a €497 million fine for Microsoft.

Kroes attended conferences organized by the Bilderberg Group in 2005 and 2006.[3]

Neelie Kroes made the Forbes' The World's 100 Most Powerful Women list multiple times: as number 53 in 2009,[4] 47 in 2008,[5] 59 in 2007,[6] 38 in 2006[7] and number 44 in 2005.[8] She is sometimes called "Nickel Neelie". She apparently earned her nickname because she's tough in the same vein as the UK "Iron Lady" Margaret Thatcher when dealing with competition issues.[9]

In 2009 she was transferred to another European Commissioner post, namely ICT and Telecom. She was also appointed as one of the vice-presidents of the European Commission.

Commissioner for Digital Agenda[edit]

In 2010 she became European Commissioner for Digital Agenda in the second Barroso Commission. The Digital Agenda for Europe[10] was proposed by the European Commission on 19 May 2010. The Digital Agenda for Europe[10] is supported by the EU Digital Competitiveness Report[11] launched also on 19 May 2010. She is a proponent of Free and Open Source Software.

She was in attendance at the Bilderberg conference in Sitges in Spain from 3 to 6 June 2010.[12]

Since 2010 she has served as a Commissioner for the Broadband Commission for Digital Development which leverages broadband technologies as a key enabler for social and economic development.[13]

In 2010 it was suggested that she would become prime-minister in the Netherlands, when Mark Rutte would stay in parliament due to difficulties in the formations in the new Cabinet. However, eventually Rutte became prime-minister.

In December 2011 Kroes invited Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg - who had resigned as German Minister of Defence in March 2011 due to plagiarism charges - as advisor to the European Commission as part of its No Disconnect Strategy designed to promote Internet freedom.[14]

In November 2012 Kroes made international news when she said her advisers at the Internet Governance Forum in Baku, Azerbaijan had been the victims of computer hacking.[15]

After the European Commission[edit]

Kroes is in the process of setting up StartupDelta, a public-private initiative to help promote the Netherlands as a destination for startup companies.[16]

Miscellaneous information[edit]


  1. ^ (Dutch) Drs. N. Kroes. Parlement & Politiek. Retrieved on 2010-03-02.
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Secretive Bilderberg over but was world domination discussed?". Retrieved 16 December 2008. 
  4. ^ "#53 Neelie Kroes". The 100 Most Powerful Women. Forbes. 19 August 2009. Retrieved 22 February 2010. 
  5. ^ "#47 Neelie Kroes; Competition commissioner, European Union". Forbes Magazine's List of The World's 100 Most Powerful Women. Forbes. 27 August 2008. Retrieved 16 December 2008. 
  6. ^ "#59 Neelie Kroes; Commissioner for competition, European Union". Forbes Magazine's List of The World's 100 Most Powerful Women. Forbes. 30 August 2007. Retrieved 16 December 2008. 
  7. ^ "#38 Neelie Kroes; European Commissioner for Competition". Forbes Magazine's List of The World's 100 Most Powerful Women. Forbes. 31 August 2006. Retrieved 16 December 2008. 
  8. ^ "#44 Neelie Kroes; European competition commissioner". Forbes Magazine's List of The World's 100 Most Powerful Women. Forbes. 2005. Retrieved 16 December 2008. 
  9. ^ "'No alternative' to Microsoft fine". Retrieved 27 July 2009. 
  10. ^ a b
  11. ^ "Digital Agenda for Europe - A Europe 2020 Initiative" (PDF). Digital Agenda for Europe. 1 October 2016. Retrieved 10 January 2016. 
  12. ^ "Meeting 2010 Participants - Bilderberg Meetings". Retrieved 10 January 2016. 
  13. ^
  14. ^ "Digital Agenda: Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg invited by Kroes to promote internet freedom". European Commission. 2011-12-12. Retrieved 2014-01-01. 
  15. ^ "Internet security conference hacked". 3 News NZ. 13 November 2012. 
  16. ^ The Grandmother Who Set the EU's Digital Agenda: Neelie Kroes is Still Crusading, Forbes 04/30/2105

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Michel van Hulten
State Secretary for Transport, Public Works and Water Management
Succeeded by
Jaap van der Doef
Preceded by
Henk Zeevalking
Minister of Transport, Public Works and Water Management
Succeeded by
Hanja Maij-Weggen
Preceded by
Frits Bolkestein
Dutch European Commissioner
Succeeded by
Frans Timmermans
Preceded by
Mario Monti
European Commissioner for Competition
Succeeded by
Joaquín Almunia
Preceded by
Viviane Reding
as European Commissioner for Information Society and Media
European Commissioner for Digital Agenda
Succeeded by
Günther Oettinger
as European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society
Succeeded by
Andrus Ansip
as European Commissioner for Digital Single Market