MEPs have finally sanctioned the appointment of three commissioners who will preside over changes to the laws covering direct, digital and data marketing despite claims that Czech politician Vera Jourová was not up to the job.
All three had been put forward by EC president-elect Jean-Claude Juncker. Andrus Ansip (pictured, middle), the former prime minister of Estonia, becomes vice-president of the Commission with responsibility for the digital market, while Jourová (right) – who succeeds Viviane Reding – becomes justice, consumers and gender equality commissioner and German Gunther Oettinger (left) is digital economy commissioner.
Ansip, who is in effect the boss of the other two, received an overwhelmingly positive reception from MEPs, although Jourova failed to impress on her initial confirmation hearing, sparking claims that she should be axed.
As it is, only one of the 27 commissioners failed to get through – the former prime minister of Slovenia Alenka Bratusek was rejected from the vice-president for energy role by 113 votes to 12.
The commissioners will now get to work on passing the EU General Data Protection Regulation. With MEPs having already given the new laws the green light, the Council of Ministers need to approve their version of the text, before the Commission, Parliament and Council the final version of the text.
Most observers believe the legislation will be passed early in 2015, although there are still a number of sticking points, notably the so-called one-stop shop plan, whereby companies only have to deal with the regulator in the country in which their head office resides, as well as the right to be forgotten.
There is also the thorny issue of consent for marketing data. The Commission has been at pains to stress that the proposals will not lead to an opt-in only regime but others – including the UK Information Commissioner’s Office – are urging companies to prepare for this inevitability.
Writing on the DMA website, Zach Thornton, external affairs executive at the industry body, said: “It is important that the commissioners with responsibility for the regulation understand the issues and the need to strike the right balance between the needs of consumers and the legitimate interests of business so that the regulation does not end up harming industry in Europe.
“We think the commissioners are well placed to take forward this message and are encouraged by the appointment of Andrus Ansip, a man who comprehends the issues at stake, and who has emphasised the need to bolster consumer protection in tandem with the development of a business-friendly, competitive digital single market.”
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