On 10 September 2014, European Commission (EC) President-elect Jean-Claude Juncker unveiled his team of commissioners, who with him will run the EC for the next five years. The new commissioners must be approved by the European Parliament (EP). This approval is expected to be granted in time for the team to take office from the beginning of November.
Although Mr Juncker has introduced several changes to the structure of the EC, the operation of competition policy remains unchanged. DG Competition (DG COMP), which will be led by Margrethe Vestager of Denmark, remains solely in charge of this area. In setting the general approach of DG COMP, Ms Vestager will, however, be required to liaise with the Commissioner for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness.
In his 10 September mission letter to Ms Vestager, Mr Juncker set out very clearly the areas of focus for competition policy over the next five years. These are the digital single market, energy policy, financial services, industrial policy and the fight against tax evasion. The latter is a particularly interesting area for companies active in the EU, given the very significant figures involved and public disquiet as to alleged practices of certain companies.
An interesting insight into Ms Vestager’s likely approach will be gained when she appears before the EP in her confirmation hearing. EP members are expected to quiz her about areas including state aid to the banking industry and high profile current cases such as the investigations into Google and Gazprom.