Future Commissioners prioritize “digital” in hearings by European Parliament


Most of the future members of the European Commission who will be in charge of areas related to e-commerce, have put an emphasis on this “digital” side of their portfolios in their hearings for approval of the European Parliament this week. Ecommerce Europe has communicated its priorities for the e-commerce sector to the Commissioner-designates in the run-up to the hearings, of which several have been confirmed by the future Commissioners.

Commissioner for Competition: “Fair competition in Digital Single Market is a priority”
Ms. Margrethe Vestager was queried on the digital sector, which she considers a priority. The Commissioner-candidate confirmed she would ensure that the dominant actors respect fair competition rules and those on data protection. Fair competition in the Digital Single Market will be a priority for the new Commission and Ecommerce Europe supports the Commission in striving for a level playing field in the e-commerce sector. Ms. Vestager could not give details about further steps in the ongoing Google investigation. Nevertheless, she did receive approval of the European Parliament.

Commissioner for the Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs: “Decrease administrative burdens”
Ms. Elżbieta Bieńkowska emphasized the need to decrease the administrative burdens for SMEs and announced plans to simplify laws regulating their activities. Ecommerce Europe supports Ms. Bieńkowska’s main objectives which will be to exploit the full potential of the single market, to foster industrial competitiveness and to unlock the business environment, through an approach that “will be comprehensive and will encompass all sectors”.

Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality: “Give online consumers informed choice and rights”
Ms. Věra Jourová’s hearing left the Parliament not convinced over her expertise due to “a lack of details”, some MEPs declared. The Commissioner-designate could not give details answers about her plan to reform the European Data Protection rules within six months. She did however stress that her work on data protection and consumer rights has one goal only: to bring back trust in the market. A lack of trust in the market is according to Ecommerce Europe not the main problem with the European e-commerce sector: A plethora of legislation, which confuses consumers and merchants, is a bigger obstacle and therefore harmonization of the rules is absolutely necessary. Despite the initial MEPs’ hesitation and after further (written) questions from the relevant Parliamentary Committees, Ms. Jourová was finally confirmed as Justice Commissioner.

First Vice-President for Better Regulation, Inter-Institutional Relations, the Rule of Law and the Charter of Fundamental Rights: “Cut red tape for businesses”
Mr. Frans Timmermans gave a confident performance during his hearing before the relevant Parliamentary Committees. During the hearing, the First Vice-President-designate declared that he would assist President-elect Juncker in restructuring the Commission, in a new drive to cut red tape and re-connect Europe to its citizens. Ecommerce Europe applauds Mr. Timmermans’ appointment, as it could reduce red tape for businesses expanding their businesses cross-border.

Next steps
Some Commissioners-designate have not received green light after the parliamentary hearings and MEPs are expected to decide on the new College of the Commission soon. The Parliament’s plenary is expected to vote on the College of the Commission on Wednesday 22 October. Ecommerce Europe has had fruitful relationships with the previous digital Commissioner and would be very pleased to continue this trend with the new, broader, “digital” team.