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EU competition watchdog Vestager to take temporary leave from EC
06 September 2023 (Edited )
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Vestager to pursue job as EIB head

Vestager to take temporary leave

The Government of Denmark has nominated European Commission (EC) Executive Vice President and EU Competition Regulator Margrethe Vestager to fill an upcoming vacancy as head of the European Investment Bank (EIB).

And the EC has granted her temporary unpaid leave so that she may pursue that opportunity.

If Ms. Vestager is chosen to head the EIB at a meeting of EU finance ministers to be held 15-16 September, she will resign her EC position and Denmark will nominate a new commissioner.

Ms. Vestager has long been a thorn in the side of Google. In June, following a 2-year investigation into behaviors of the search and advertising giant that are alleged to favor its own ad services over those of competitors, she opined that Google may have to sell part of its adtech business because "a behavioural remedy is unlikely to be effective."

Belgian EC Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders - formerly Belgian Finance Minister - will assume the duties of competition chief during Ms. Vestager's absence, reporting directly to EC President Ursula von der Leyen.

Mr. Reynders is already well known to Google as a driving force behind a new EU law that would speed up enforcement of the EU's GDPR in cross-border privacy cases involving Google, Meta, Amazon and other US online companies. (In July, Mr. Reynders said in this regard, "The GDPR is well enforced but we can do better.")

Meanwhile, back in the USA, an earlier antitrust suit filed against Google by the Justice Department and a coalition of states' Attorneys General is scheduled to go to trial this month - but in a seriously weakened form, after a District Court Judge dismissed several major claims in August.

Will Ms. Vestager's absence from the EC give Google some breathing room in Europe? Or will Mr. Reynders pursue competition regulation with renewed vigor? Stay tuned.

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