The committees on Industry, Internal Market and Economic Affairs questioned Margrethe Vestager, Danish candidate for the Europe fit for the Digital Age portfolio.
Political groups’ coordinators from the committees will meet immediately after to assess the performance of Executive Vice President-designate.
Digital Single Market and competition
During her introductory speech, Ms Vestager said: “Climate change and the digital transformation will affect every aspect of our daily lives”, pledging “not to make Europe more like China or the US, but more like itself”, with strong values and where markets work for people. She added that competition, although vital for a thriving economy, was not sufficient and that an EU industrial strategy needed to be developed.
Ms Vestager also reiterated plans to present a Digital Services Act to upgrade liability and safety rules for digital platforms. Proposals on Artificial intelligence (AI) would be tabled within the first 100 days, she stated, also committing to act to ensure fair taxation in the EU.
MEPs questioned Ms Vestager on how she plans to speed up the Commission’s reactions to avoid distortion in the single market, paving the way for EU companies to compete with US tech giants. They also asked if she would be willing to go further than only imposing fines, and, for example, push for giant companies to be broken up. MEPs also brought up the potential conflict of interest that Ms Vestager could face while executing her wide portfolio, especially on ensuring competition and encouraging the development of digital companies.
On AI, several MEPs quizzed Ms Vestager on how she intends to enable the EU to become a world leader and ensure sufficient funding. Europe needs to catch up, including through its 2021-2027 budget and public procurement as well as by creating trust in technology, she replied.
You can watch the video recording of the full hearing here.
At the end of the hearing, Committee Chairs Adina-Ioana Vălean (ITRE), Petra De Sutter (IMCO) and Irene Tinagli (ECON) as well as Ms Vestager held a press point outside the meeting room: watch it again here.
Based on the committees’ recommendations, the Conference of Presidents will decide on 17 October if Parliament has received sufficient information to declare the hearing process closed. If so, the plenary will vote on whether or not to elect the Commission as a whole on 23 October, in Strasbourg.
MEPs from the Legal Affairs Committee also participated in the hearing.