Margrethe Vestager

Margrethe Vestager
(Margrethe Vestager) Hearings of Margrethe Vestager DK, vice president-designate for a Europe fit for the digital age (48865071413) (cropped).jpg
Executive Vice President of the European Commission for a Europe Fit for the Digital Age
Assumed office
1 December 2019
PresidentUrsula von der Leyen
Preceded byOffice Established
European Commissioner for Competition
In office
1 November 2014 – 30 November 2019
PresidentUrsula von der Leyen
Jean-Claude Juncker
Preceded byJoaquín Almunia
Minister of the Economy and Interior
In office
3 October 2011 – 2 September 2014
Prime MinisterHelle Thorning-Schmidt
Preceded byBrian Mikkelsen (Economy)
Bertel Haarder (Interior)
Succeeded byMorten Østergaard
Leader of the Social Liberal Party
In office
15 June 2007 – 2 September 2014
Preceded byMarianne Jelved
Succeeded byMorten Østergaard
Minister of Education
In office
23 March 1998 – 27 November 2001
Prime MinisterPoul Nyrup Rasmussen
Preceded byOle Vig Jensen
Succeeded byUlla Tørnæs
Minister of Ecclesiastical Affairs
In office
23 March 1998 – 21 December 2000
Prime MinisterPoul Nyrup Rasmussen
Preceded byOle Vig Jensen
Succeeded byJohannes Lebech
Personal details
Born (1968-04-13) 13 April 1968 (age 51)
Glostrup, Denmark
Political partySocial Liberal Party
Other political
Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Party
Thomas Jensen (m. 1994)
EducationUniversity of Copenhagen

Margrethe Vestager (Danish pronunciation: [makʁæːˀtə ˈvɛstæːˀɐ]; born 13 April 1968) is a Danish social liberal politician, Executive Vice President of the European Commission for a Europe Fit for the Digital Age since 1 December 2019[1] and previously European Commissioner for Competition between 2014 and 2019.

Vestager was a member of the Folketing from 20 November 2001 until 2 September 2014, representing the Danish Social Liberal Party (Radikale Venstre). She was the political leader of her party from 2007 to 2014, and served as Minister of Economic Affairs and the Interior from 2011 to 2014. She has been described as "the rich world’s most powerful trustbuster".[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Vestager was born in Glostrup, Zealand, a daughter of Lutheran ministers Hans Vestager and Bodil Tybjerg.[2][3] She matriculated from Varde Upper Secondary school in 1986. She studied at the University of Copenhagen, graduating in 1993 with a degree in Economics.[4] Vestager speaks Danish, English and some French.[5]

Political career[edit]

Vestager has been a professional politician since the age of 21, when she was appointed to the central board and executive committee of the SLP and its European Affairs Committee, and shortly afterwards as National Chairwoman of the Party.[citation needed]

In 2001, Vestager was elected to the Danish Parliament, becoming Chairwoman of its Parliamentary Group in 2007. She was appointed Minister of Education and Ecclesiastical Affairs in 1998.[citation needed]

On June 15, 2007, Vestager secured election as her Party's parliamentary group leader in the Folketing, replacing Marianne Jelved.[3] When Denmark's Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen called an early election in 2011 after failing to secure majority lawmaker backing for his economic stimulus package, Vestager's Social Liberals and the Conservative People's Party formed a political alliance, pledging to work together no matter which political bloc would win the election.[6]

Minister for Economic and Interior Affairs of Denmark, 2011–2014[edit]

From 2011 until 2014 Vestager served as Minister for Economic and Interior Affairs in the three-party Social Democrat-led coalition government of Helle Thorning-Schmidt. Having forced through deep cuts in unemployment benefits of Denmark's generous social welfare system after the country's economy narrowly escaped recession in 2012,[7] she was at one point considered by Danish media and pollsters as the most powerful person in government, even above Thorning-Schmidt.[8]

In her time in office, chaired the meetings of economic and finance ministers of the European Union (ECOFIN) during Denmark's presidency of the Council of Ministers in 2012.[9] In this capacity, she announced that the European Union would cede two of its seats on the board of the International Monetary Fund to emerging economies under a new power-sharing scheme for international financial institutions.[10] She also worked closely with Jean-Claude Juncker to salvage Europe's financial sector and forge a European Banking Union.[11]

Between 2011 and 2014, Vestager led Denmark's campaign against Basel III liquidity rules, arguing in favor of allowing banks to use 75 percent more in covered bonds to fill liquidity buffers than allowed under Basel III rules; at the time Denmark's $550 billion mortgage-backed covered bond market, part of the country's two-century-old mortgage system,[12] was the world's largest per capita.[13] In 2013 she ruled out slowing down steps toward stricter requirements for systemically important lenders and reiterated her stance that banks won't get tax breaks to help them through the transition caused by regulatory reform.[14]

In May 2014, Vestager presented a growth package designed to drag Denmark's economy – at the time Scandinavia's weakest – out of its crisis, raising the country's structural output by 6 billion kroner ($1.1 billion) and cut costs for companies by 4 billion kroner in 2020 through 89 measures to improve the business climate and boost employment.[15]

European Commissioner for Competition, 2014–2019[edit]

On 31 August 2014, Prime Minister Thorning-Schmidt nominated Vestager as Denmark's EU Commissioner in the Juncker Commission.[16] Despite her repeated denials of campaigning for the Environment portfolio,[17][18] eventually she was designated the Competition dossier in the Juncker Commission.[19] On 3 October 2014, she won the European Parliament's backing following her confirmation hearing.[20][21]

In her confirmation hearings, Vestager said she favored settlement of cases before they come to a final executive judgment, for reduced fines or negotiated concessions from the companies.[22]

Like her predecessor, Joaquín Almunia, Vestager has since been focusing on state aid cases.[citation needed] Within a few months in the office, she brought antitrust charges against Google; Almunia had initially opened the investigation into Google in 2010, and had reached a settlement deal with Google by 2014 but was unable to convince the European Commission to accept it before his term ended. Vestager inherited Almunia's case but has shown greater desire to continue pursuing Google/Alphabet over the alleged antitrust violations.[4] Also, she initiated investigations into the tax affairs of Fiat, Starbucks, and Apple Inc. under competition rules.[5] In 2014, she launched proceedings against Gazprom, one of Europe's main gas suppliers, over allegations of breaching EU antitrust rules by putting in place artificial barriers to trade with eight European countries: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Bulgaria.[23]

In January 2015, Vestager ordered Cyprus Airways to pay back over 65 million euros in illegal state aid received in 2012 and 2013 as part of a restructuring package; as a consequence, Cyprus suspended operations at its flag carrier resulting in 550 job losses and reduced competition.[24][25]

In August 2016, after a two–year investigation, Vestager announced Apple Inc. received illegal tax benefits from Ireland. The Commission ordered Apple to pay a fine of €13 billion, plus interest, in unpaid Irish taxes for 2004–2014;[26] the largest tax fine in history.[27] As a result of the EU investigation, Apple agreed to re-structure out of its 2004–2014 Irish BEPS tool, the Double Irish in Q1 2015; Apple's replacement Irish BEPS tool, the CAIA arrangement caused Irish 2015 GDP to rise by 34.4 per cent,[28] and was labelled Leprechaun economics by Nobel Prize-winning economist, Paul Krugman in July 2016.[29][30]

In July 2017, a fine of $2.7 billion against Alphabet (formerly Google) was levied based on the European Commission claim that Google breached antitrust rules. This fine was later appealed.[31]

In October 2017, Vestager ordered Amazon to pay €250 million of back taxes,[32] and in January 2018, the EU Commission fined Qualcomm €997 million for allegedly abusing its market dominance on LTE baseband chipsets.[33] In July 2018, she fined Alphabet (Google) €4.3 billion for entrenching its dominance in internet search by illegally tying together their service and other mobile apps with Android. On January 22, 2019, she fined Mastercard €570 million for preventing European retailers from shopping around for better payment terms.[34] In March 2019, Vestager ordered Google to pay a fine €1.49 billion for abusive practices in online advertising.[35][36] Vestager's work as competition commissioner received criticism from US President Donald Trump (who also dubbed her as the EU's "Tax Lady"),[37] stating "She hates the United States, perhaps worse than any person I’ve ever met."[38]

Following the 2019 European Parliament election, Vestager was proposed as President of the European Commission.[39] In June 2019, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen proposed that Vestager continue as Denmark's Commissioner for another five years.[40] While, initially thought to become First Vice-President,[41] Ursula von der Leyen has since proposed that Vestager, Frans Timmermans and Valdis Dombrovskis all serve as Executive Vice-Presidents of the Commission with Vestager having responsibility for a "Europe fit for the Digital Age".

Other activities[edit]

Corporate boards[edit]

Non-profit organizations[edit]


Political positions[edit]

In 2013, Vestager held that “[in] our experience it’s impossible to pursue Danish interests without being close to the core of Europe. You don’t have influence or produce results if you’re standing on the sideline.”[46]

Personal life[edit]

Vestager's husband is a gymnasium maths-and-philosophy teacher. They have three daughters, Maria, Rebecca, and Ella. Vestager served as an inspiration for the main character in Borgen, who tries to juggle family life and politics.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Margrethe Vestager". European Commission. 2019-11-19. Retrieved 2019-12-08.
  2. ^ a b "Is Margrethe Vestager championing consumers or her political career". The Economist. 14 September 2017.
  3. ^ a b Margrethe Vestager on the Folketinget website.
  4. ^ a b Camesasca, Peter; Cole, Miranda; Geradin, Damien; Ysewyn, Johan (10 September 2014). "New EU Competition Commissioner--Margrethe Vestager". The National Law Review. Covington & Burling LLP. Retrieved 15 September 2014.
  5. ^ a b c Danny Hakim (April 15, 2015), The Danish Politician Who Accused Google of Antitrust Violations New York Times.
  6. ^ Josiane Kremer (August 28, 2011), Danish Conservatives, Social Liberals Form Pact, Berlingske Says Bloomberg Business.
  7. ^ Mette Fraende and Erik Matzen (December 13, 2012), Denmark sees painful recovery as economy stalls Reuters.
  8. ^ Foo Yun Chee and Julia Fioretti (September 10, 2014), Danish reformer gets EU antitrust stick; German to police the Internet Reuters.
  9. ^ Cynthia Kroet (August 31, 2014), Denmark nominates Vestager as European commissioner European Voice.
  10. ^ EU to cut IMF board seats in autumn- EU's Vestager Reuters, April 20, 2012.
  11. ^ Gaspard Sebag, Peter Levring and Aoife White (September 10, 2014), Denmark’s Vestager to Replace EU Antitrust Chief Almunia Bloomberg News.
  12. ^ Frances Schwartzkopff (December 6, 2013), Soros Venture Urges Denmark to Ignore EBA Covered Bond Plan Bloomberg Business.
  13. ^ Frances Schwartzkopff, Jim Brunsden and Peter Levring (June 13, 2014), Basel’s Liquidity Rules Ignored as EU Sides With Denmark Bloomberg Business.
  14. ^ Peter Levring (May 28, 2013), Banks Rebuked for Spin Tactics as Denmark Slams Sifi Pleas Bloomberg Business.
  15. ^ Peter Levring (May 8, 2014), Danish Government Unveils Plan to Help Economy Exit Crisis Bloomberg Business.
  16. ^ "Vestager træder ud af regeringen og bliver EU-kommissær" (in Danish). Danmarks Radio. 31 August 2014.
  17. ^ "EXCLUSIVE: The Juncker team revealed". Retrieved 4 September 2014.
  18. ^ "Vestager afviser rygter: Jeg skal ikke være miljøkommissær". Retrieved 4 September 2014.
  19. ^ "The new structure of the Juncker Commission". Retrieved 10 September 2014.
  20. ^ Robin Emmott (October 3, 2014), Denmark's Vestager wins backing as new EU antitrust head Reuters.
  21. ^ Paul Taylor (October 5, 2014), Juncker's team likely to survive EU power struggle Reuters.
  22. ^ Foo Yun Chee and Alastair Macdonald (September 23, 2014), New EU antitrust head not swayed by anti-Americanism, bullies Reuters.
  23. ^ "European Commission - PRESS RELEASES - Press release - Statement by Commissioner Vestager on sending a Statement of Objections to Gazprom".
  24. ^ Foo Yun Chee and Alastair Macdonald (January 9, 2015), Cyprus Airways closed down after EU state aid ruling Reuters.
  25. ^ Times of Malta (January 10, 2015), Cyprus Airways closed down after EU state aid ruling Times of Malta.
  26. ^ "EU Commission Decision on State Aid by Ireland to Apple" (PDF). Apple (Ireland). 30 August 2016. Retrieved 2016-11-14.
  27. ^ Foroohar, Rana (August 30, 2016). "Apple vs. the E.U. Is the Biggest Tax Battle in History". Retrieved 2016-11-14.
  28. ^ Patrick Syth, European Editor (13 September 2019). "Explainer: Apple's €13bn tax appeal has huge implications". Irish Times. Retrieved 15 October 2019. Apple has changed its own corporate structure, restructured a new Irish Beps tool called Capital Allowances for Intangible Assets (CAIA), also nicknamed the “Green Jersey”. The bookkeeping change was so significant that it contributed to the extraordinary one-off revision in Irish GDP for 2015 by 26 per cent (later revised to 34.4 per cent).CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  29. ^ Mark Deen; Dara Doyle (13 July 2016). ""Leprechaun Economics" Earn Ireland Ridicule, $443 Million Bill". Bloomberg News. Archived from the original on 28 April 2019. Retrieved 27 April 2019.
  30. ^ Colm Kelpie (13 July 2016). "'Leprechaun economics' - Ireland's 26pc growth spurt laughed off as 'farcical'". Irish Independent. Archived from the original on 14 June 2018. Retrieved 29 April 2019.
  31. ^ "European Commission fines Google $2.7B in antitrust ruling".
  32. ^ "After a bite of Apple, Margrethe Vestager targets another tech giant". The Economist. 4 October 2017.
  33. ^ Gibbs, Samuel (24 January 2018). "Qualcomm fined €997m by EU for paying Apple to exclusively use its chips". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 February 2018.
  34. ^ Welle (, Deutsche. "EU fines Mastercard more than half a billion euros | DW | 22.01.2019". DW.COM.
  35. ^ "Statement by Commissioner Vestager on Commission decision to fine Google € 1.49 billion for abusive practices in online advertising". European Commission. Brussels. 20 March 2019. Retrieved 16 July 2019.
  36. ^ Volpicelli, Gian (29 May 2019). "Margrethe Vestager fined Google and Apple billions, now she may lead Europe". Wired. Archived from the original on 31 May 2019. Retrieved 16 July 2019.
  37. ^ Amaro, Silvia (10 September 2019). "Margrethe Vestager is set to remain EU competition chief for another five years". CNBC.
  38. ^ Dallison, Paul (26 June 2019). "Trump: 'Europe treats us worse than China'". Politico. Retrieved 4 July 2019.
  39. ^ "EU Commission boss: Who will replace Jean-Claude Juncker?". BBC News. BBC. 2 July 2019. Retrieved 4 July 2019.
  40. ^ Paul Dallison (June 26, 2019), New Danish PM wants Vestager to stay as commissioner Politico Europe.
  41. ^ Herschend, Sofie Synnøve; Ritzau (10 July 2019). "Vestager bliver ikke første næstformand, siger Ursula von der Leyen". TV2 Nyheder (in Danish). TV2. Retrieved 16 July 2019.
  42. ^ a b c d e Margrethe Vestager: Declaration of interests Archived 2015-04-18 at the Wayback Machine European Commission.
  43. ^ Margarethe Vestager: Declaration of interests Archived 2015-04-18 at the Wayback Machine European Commission.
  44. ^ Members European Council on Foreign Relations.
  45. ^ "Patron Saint's Day 2017: interviews with the new honorary doctors".
  46. ^ Peter Levring (January 23, 2013), U.K. Must ‘Walk Path Alone’ on EU Vote, Denmark Says Bloomberg Business.

External links[edit]

Media related to Margrethe Vestager at Wikimedia Commons

Party political offices
Preceded by
Grethe Erichsen
Chair of the Social Liberal Party
Succeeded by
Johannes Lebech
Preceded by
Marianne Jelved
Leader of the Social Liberal Party in the Folketing
Succeeded by
Marianne Jelved
Leader of the Social Liberal Party
Succeeded by
Morten Østergaard
Political offices
Preceded by
Ole Vig Jensen
Minister of Ecclesiastical Affairs
Succeeded by
Johannes Lebech
Minister of Education
Succeeded by
Ulla Tørnæs
Preceded by
Lars Barfoed
Deputy Prime Minister of Denmark
Succeeded by
Morten Østergaard
Preceded by
Brian Mikkelsen
as Minister of the Economy
Minister of the Economy and Interior
Preceded by
Bertel Haarder
as Minister of the Interior
Preceded by
Connie Hedegaard
Danish European Commissioner
Preceded by
Joaquín Almunia
European Commissioner for Competition