Europe has been investigating Google’s dominance and practices for years, but these official charges mark a huge step forward.
Who’s responsible for making them happen?
Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s competition comissioner, also known to some as the “Iron Lady of Denmark,” according to The New York Times.
Vestager served as Denmark’s minister of the economy before taking the EU seat last year. Now, not six months after her appointment, she’s taking a tough stance on an incredibly powerful company.
“You can accuse Margrethe Vestager of many things, but not of being afraid,” the editor in chief of Danish newspaper Politiken told The Times’s Natasha Singer and James Kanter.
Here’s what you need to know about Vestager:
- Her predecessor — Joaquin Almunia — failed to reach a settlement with Google three times, which in part led her to be much more aggressive in her dealings with the search giant (Google has 90% dominance in some parts of Europe). “The negotiation has been dragging on for years,” she told USA Today. “So when I came into office, I found that it was important to reconsider how to handle the case because we kept getting complaints.”
- Vestager is tough (and has frequently been described as “steely”), but she’s also well liked. Besides the “Iron Lady,” she’s been referred to as “Queen Margrethe III” by Danes because of her influence as economic minster, according to USA Today. Before that, she was the political leader of the Social Liberal Party
- She’s definitely not afraid to ruffle feathers though. After she cut some of Denmark’s unemployment benefits, a few angry constituents sent her a sculpture of a hand flipping the bird, which she displays proudly in her EU office
- Vestager inspired the female prime minister character on the popular “West Wing”-esque Danish TV show called “Borgen.”
- She has a very active Twitter account, where she posts a lot of pictures from her travels and behind-the-scenes peeks at her job. She has nearly 98,000 followers.
- Vestager laughs at suggestions of her “ruthless streak,” according to The Financial Times. “I don’t know but it comes with being a Danish politician,” she told reporters Richard Milne and Alex Barker. “We have always had minority governments and you need to have a very strong willingness to listen to other people and also a willingness to get things done otherwise nothing ever gets done.”
- She’s an expert knitter and is known for making colourful elephants during even very high-level meetings, as long as she’s not presenting. They “bear no grudge, but they remember well,” she says of her affinity for the animal.