Vestager shows she’s prepared to take on big tech

Denmark is enjoying higher profile than ever before at his year’s SXSW, a point underlined by the appearance of Danish politician and EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager at several events during the week.

The high-ranking commissioner, rumored to be the inspiration for the lead role in the TV series Borgen,took part in two events at the House of Scandinavia on Monday, and brought up the fact that the Danes reputation and the so-called Scandinavian DNA can have a major influence on global matters. 

“I’d like to be humble here, but it’s true that the fact that despite our country’s size, we are the first in the world to appoint a Global Tech Ambassador (Casper Klynge) along with my role at the EU are both reflections of how Denmark is perceived on an international basis,” she said ahead of the two panel discussions at the House of Scandinavia.

By default, Vestager’s role has involved extensive travel during her term. 

“It’s great to be Scandinavian and to be a part of initiatives like this. We want our good ideas to travel, but ideas only travel if you discuss them. No one wants to be taught but everyone wants to learn,” says the politician. 

Her ideas and policies have made her one of the most recognizable faces in the upper echelons of the EU,thanks in part to the massive antitrust fines she has imposed on US tech companies, among them Apple and Google, earning Vestager a reputation as the most fearless tech regulator in the world. 

As such she’s the first to acknowledge that her role has not been without its challenges. A primary concern for her has been data and its value.

“Enormous amounts of data are being created every day and lots of it is owned by very strong players. But if the price of data is set by monopolies they have huge control. We all need access to data for innovation in every field – whether you’re building AI, or testing services you need access to data. The most important thing of all for me, is to break the illusion of citizens that you’re getting something for free – in my opinion there is a price to pay and very often you pay too much,” says Vestager.

Meanwhile with 5G, her sights are already set on another issue on the horizon.

“The biggest challenge today is speed. Because when you’re in fast moving markets and you see that illegal behavior can kill a company or stop it from serving customers any more, then speed is of the essence, because law enforcement will have to be faster if the markets are faster,” says the commissioner. 

Margrethe Vestager’s relationship with the tech giants gives her appearance at SXSW an intriguing side plot, and her next move is well worth keeping an eye on. If the rumors suggesting she is in the running for the top EU job when Claude Juncker ends his term later this year turn out to be true, expect the Danish profile on the international stage to rise even higher. 



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