EU hands more policy powers to competition commissioner

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European competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager has been handed another five year term by the EU with an expanded remit for digital policy and regulation.

European Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen has distributed the portfolios to each EU Member State’s nomination for commissioner and alongside Verstager’s current role has made the former Danish Deputy Prime Minister the EC executive vice president for digital.

EU competition

This means she will be responsible for formulating cybersecurity, tax and privacy policies – areas which are likely to put her on a collision course with prominent politicians like Donald Trump and some of the world’s biggest technology and telecoms firms.

The former has earned a formidable reputation over the past few years thanks to her willingness to take on US tech giants and their alleged anti-competitive tactics.

Earlier this year, the EC slapped Google with a €1.49 billion fine for its advertising practices, while the Irish government has been ordered to collect as much as €14 billion in unpaid taxes from Apple. The commission alleged that Apple’s favourable rates were tantamount to state aid.

Other mobile firms to have been investigated for alleged antitrust violations include Qualcomm and Broadcom.

Verstager also played a role in the failed merger between O2 and Three in 2016. The EC blocked the transaction, arguing the reduction from four mobile operators to two would increase prices and reduce network innovation.

Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.