As the summer officially comes to an end and temperatures are dropping, the European Quarter is once again buzzing with life. The newly installed European Parliament and designated European Commission are in full swing, making it high time to take a closer look at the policymakers that will be responsible for digital policy in the coming term.
For the European parliament, one has to pay attention to some experienced and active MEPs in the parliamentary committees dealing with digital issues, such as the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee, the Legal Affairs Committee or the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committees – among others. For the European Commission, President Von der Leyen has announced the portfolios of the new Commissioners today with – as expected – a particular focus put on Digital with a dedicated “Executive Vice President” in charge of Digital and Competition, Margrethe Vestager.
Among other key Commissioners-designate announced today by Von der Leyen, the French Sylvie Goulard will be the right arm of Vestager on a number of important files, including the Digital Services Act and new initiatives on Artificial Intelligence. The Belgian Didier Reynders will be taking over the work of Commissioner Vera Jourova in overseeing the work on Consumer protection and data protection. Finally, we can see from the mission letters that digital taxation remains on the agenda and will fall under the portfolio of the Italian Paolo Gentiloni.
As mentioned, Margrethe Vestager will be the new Executive Vice-President for Europe fit for the Digital Age. As the “Executive Vice President” in charge of Digital and Commissioner for Competition, Vestager will coordinate the whole digital agenda. Already in her role as competition Commissioner in the previous mandate, Vestager stressed the digital aspect of competition policy. In a speech on the “digital future that works for Europeans” that Vestager delivered last week, she focused on the advantages of digitalization, the role of platforms and competition, consumer and data protection and international cooperation. It seems likely that these issues will also be the focal points for her policy agenda for the coming term.
The work initiated at the European Commission on digital topics will certainly resonate with some key new or returning Members of the European Parliament. Von der Leyen already announced the upcoming proposal for a new Digital Services Act. Crucial in this debate is Dita Charanzová, a Czech MEP and coordinator for Renew Europe. At a coordinators meeting in EP IMCO Committee, Charanzová stressed the importance of the parliament’s role in the debate and proposed to draft an initiative report on the Digital Services Act.
Furthermore, there are several other MEPs to keep an eye out for – just to name a few. As the former Commissioner for the Digital Single Market, Andrus Ansip, now a member of the EP IMCO Committee in the European Parliament, can be expected to be an influential figure in the digital policy area. For instance, Róża Thun Und Hohenstein (EPP) – member of the EP IMCO Committee since 2009 – and Andreas Schwab – since 2004 – both have quite a lot of influence over the debates taking place in the Committee. In addition, Axel Voss, from the EP JURI Committee has been largely involved in the debate around copyright in the Digital Single Market and will now continue the work on the ePrivacy Regulation as the EPP Shadow rapporteur. From the side of S&D, Birgit Sippel, as a member of the LIBE Committee, will take over the role of rapporteur on that file. Also, Eva Kaili and Eva Maydell, both part of the ITRE Committee, will certainly continue their respective work on digital issues.
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