EC Reshuffle Sees Kroes And Reding Assigned New Duties

Two of the EC’s most effective commissioners have been moved to other duties following a reshuffle

On by Tom Jowitt 0

Two of the most effective European Union (EU) commissioners of recent years have been moved to new duties after a cabinet reshuffle.

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Commissioner Viviane Reding, who has been the bane of telecom and mobile operators for the past five years, is to step down from her role at the Commission for Information Society and Media, and will move to the Commission for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship. She is also being made vice president of the Commission.

Reding made her name by taking on the incumbent fixed line and mobile operators, forcing them to ditch many anti-competitive practices, including opposing German operator Deutsche Telekom in its plan to build a new fibre network in Germany, but not open it up to its rivals. She also took on the mobile operators over price cuts to mobile roaming and data services tariffs, and the UK government over the controversial web monitoring tool Phorm. Under her watch, Reding has overseen the approval of the EC Telecoms Reform Package.

Meanwhile, competition commissioner Neelie Kroes has been a thorn in the side of companies such as Microsoft and Oracle, and she will now become the digital agenda commissioner and will oversee European Network and Information Security Agency (Enisa) and the Information Society Directorate General. She will be responsible for increasing online access to content, and the digital economy, and she has also been appointed as vice president of the Commission.

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Like Reding, Kroes has not been afraid to take on the big companies. When she began her five years as competition commissioner, she handled the EU’s antitrust investigation into Microsoft, which resulted in Redmond being slapped with a 497 million euros (£454 million) fine. Her office was also responsible for investigation into Intel which resulted in a 1 billion euros (£914 million) fine in May.

More recently Kroes has been leading the antitrust investigations into Oracle’s purchase of Sun Microsystems and into Microsoft’s bundling of Internet Explorer with its operating systems.

The commissioners must now gain approval from the European Parliament in January before taking up their new offices.

Tom Jowitt

Author: Tom Jowitt

Freelance TechWeek Reporter
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