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New European Commissioners: ICT Focus

New European Commissioners: ICT Focus

New European Commissioners: ICT Focus
Insights from Wes Himes, Managing Partner

As you know, former Estonian Prime Minister Andrus Ansip is now the European Commissioner for the Digital Single Market, and Germany´s Guenther Oettinger is the Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society. The appointment of two “digital” Commissioners suggests that work in this area will take a front seat over the upcoming five years.

For your information: Andrus Ansip was prime minister of Estonia from 2005 until 2014, and the longest serving Prime Minister in Europe until he resigned in March. Ansip is a chemist by profession and former Mayor of Tartu. He gained international recognition for his successful digitalization of a significant part of public services in Estonia, and move towards e-voting by introducing online voting. Sometimes nicknamed “E-stonia“, the country has become one of the most internet dependent countries in the world. Meanwhile, during his time as Commissioner for Energy, Commissioner Guenther Oettinger was criticized for favoring the financial interests of big energy companies and for undermining the coal/nuclear to renewable shift. He seems to have no apparent political experience in the field of ICT, however German magazine der Spiegel speculates that Juncker wants to boost the position of the Digital Commissioner (by for example playing on the recent spying scandals in Europe), possibly to create more support among member states for the creation of a digital “super commissioner”.

The new appointments will also mean some organizational changes within the Commission services, namely:
• Unit MARKT D1 (Copyright), the part of Unit MARKT D3 (Fight against Counterfeiting and Piracy) dealing with copyright enforcement, and the part of unit MARKT E3 (Online and postal Services) dealing with online services moves from DG Internal Market and Services (MARKT) to DG CONNECT.
• Unit EAC E3 (Creative Europe Programme – MEDIA) moves from DG Education and Culture (EAC) to DG CONNECT.
• The part of Unit COMM A2 (Media Networks and Contracts) dealing with multimedia actions funded by budget line (Euronews, Euranet, European Audiovisual Observatory) moves from DG (COMM) to DG CONNECT.
Re-organisation also means that the Commission is divided into 7 teams, headed by 7 vice-presidents. Theoretically, this means that Commissioners will work together more frequently, and that vice-president Ansip will work with quite a few DGs, which will also overlap with other practice areas.

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