I am both glad that Margrethe Vestager remains in the same position and sorry that she hasn't been promoted to even more important posts.
She has done excellent work so far, keeping companies in check. It is largely thanks to her that the ridiculous roaming charges which telecoms used to gouge us with are gone. Her work shows that this kind of regulation is necessary, because "the market" will not magically solve everything.
Contrast her work with the ridiculous decisions of Ajit Pai at the FCC to see how you can run things differently.
> I am both glad that Margrethe Vestager remains in the same position and sorry that she hasn't been promoted to even more important posts.
Indeed; I was hoping that she would become the President of the European Commission. But I'm certainly glad she'll still be Competition Commissioner and, now, Executive Vice-President of the college.
Agreed, it's a great feeling to see the number of major cases where I felt her team and her and thus the European Competition Comission was in line with what I wished would happened and protected our interests as citizen of the EU.
It also sometimes has large ramification outside the EU (like the Apple / Qualcomm case), but unlike what I often see from american commenters in thread about these I genuinely don't feel like the position has been used to give more advantage to the EU, only to ensure fair competitive practice (and if anything, they've been even harder on stricly EU companies they come against).
Then I'll offer a counterpoint - Vestager sums up everything wrong with the EU and why every country should leave.
Firstly, her position violates all known good principles of governance. Her office acts as judge, jury and executioner. There's no clear separation of executive from judiciary from legislature: the Commission creates the laws, enforces the laws, and imposes the penalties under those laws. It can levy massive fines against businesses at will without having to win any kind of court case or in fact convince anyone of anything at all. The resulting fines go straight into the EU budget and the EU is always desperate for cash, giving her a huge conflict of interest.
Vestager is the manifestation of the EU's total capitulation to its own forces of stagnation and apathy. There are no big tech firms in Europe, unless we generously count ARM (now owned by Asian countries) or SAP, but SAP doesn't play in the consumer space and is hardly a force for innovation.
Rather than encourage tech firms, the Commission under Vestager has repeatedly sent the powerful message that no matter what you do or how hard you try, if you get big and successful you'll be found guilty of violating some vague, badly thought out bit of EU law.
Spend hundreds of millions on trying to comply with the GDPR, a piece of law so vague it literally says things are illegal unless you need to do them in which case they aren't? Irrelevant: no amount of spend will protect you from being found in violation. The EU Commission was violating the GDPR itself on the day enforcement began, but the apparent difficulty of compliance is also irrelevant: they simply announced they don't have to follow their own laws.
Create Android and actually open source it, thus saving the competitive ecosystem of phone OEMs from the iOS juggernaut? Doesn't matter, you're still "anti competitive" whereas iOS - totally proprietary - isn't. In upside down Vestager world allowing other firms to compete against your own phones with your own OS is worse for competition than building a vertically integrated and totally closed ecosystem. How exactly can you not be found anti-competitive? That's left undefined.
Add useful features to your useful search engine? No Comrade, that's illegal. Can't find anyone who actually suffered harm as a result of this new feature, not a single person anywhere? Doesn't matter; Vestager's laws are not justified by actually protecting consumers. The lack of harm doesn't matter.
Why should anyone bother trying to create tech firms in Europe, when people like Vestager are waiting for you to get successful so they can step in and "save" the consumer from your products, conveniently funding her own salary and bloated pensions at the same time?
Vestager vs Pai sums up EU vs America and in one swift comparison, sums up why America dominates the tech world. It's nothing to be proud of.
Pai isn't doing any useful work, he only does the bidding of his monopolistic masters.
I've been thinking about to what extent I support regulation of tech companies. Usually I side with software companies against governments (especially in cases like protecting encryption, etc.) But there are some battles where it doesn't seem like a tech issue per se, and I don't see why I need to side with the company:
* Apple vs govts on taxes
* Amazon (even Uber) vs govts on employee status and income
I don't really believe in the 'break up Google/Facebook/etc' case though. It is not likely to address the harms people imagine it will. (As a minor example, consider how cookie prompts solved nothing.) But some regulation on specific features across the board makes sense (like laws about facial recognition, or existing regulations like COPPA.)
I've always thought the Cambridge Analytica scandal was overblown and I think some of the anti-FB ballast provided by that story is fading. I think elite media/political opinion might over-emphasize it. Are average Americans really sitting around asking for Google to be cut apart? I don’t think so…
Plus, what about the beneficial aspects of the SV ecosystem? Reducing the power of Silicon Valley is a great way to let the NSA have more spying power, have fewer immigrants at top executive roles, let Comcast charge extra based on apps you use, enable record labels to shut down Youtube… and mess up many other things we take for granted.
> where it doesn't seem like a tech issue per se,
Much of the privacy issues around "tech" companies revolves around the fact that they are advertising companies. That is the driving force behind them spying on users. But we do not group them as such
The remaining issues around "tech" companies usually revolve around their monopolistic nature, which is also an issue in other sectors.
I guess what I am barking at is that phrasing this as a battle against "tech" is a misnomer and might lead to unfortunate backlashes.
That being said, I am happy that Fru Vestager gets to soldier on, the fight itself is definitely valid. Now if we could just get our governments to stop spying on us we would be golden
I think at this stage it is not companies vs governments but companies vs people.
An average user has no idea what is happening while using an Android phone or chatting on Messenger. As anecdotal evidence i was showing to people that I cannot send a particular website over to them over messenger because Facebook classified that website not suitable to be sent over. 9 out of 10 was shocked that Facebook reads their messages. The recent developments about audio recordings also crazy.
I don't know. Digital services and connected devices are becoming essential to almost all areas of modern life.
Yes, you can decline to use many of the services of you have serious dedication and want to miss out on all technological progress of the last decades. But other services are almost unavoidable: You need a bank account and email address to take part in society; You need a car to travel, which today is most likely already a rolling computer with cloud uplink. In the future, just walking on the street might place you into some database via automatic facial recognition.
Currently, control about all those services is seen purely as a business topic and therefore the service providers are given complete freedom. I think that mismatches greatly with the impact those services have have on modern life, so I think there is a case to put them under democratic control.
Yeah this is definitely something to think about.
Breaking up Google / Facebook is obviously not going to work. The services / companies benefit from strong network effects, it's a natural winner-takes-all industry with only a few powerful players.
That doesn't mean that they should not be controlled. I find it completely repulsive how they are able to set non-transparent, arbitrary policy (regarding censorship, payments etc.) that affect billions of people all over the world, who just have to accept it without recourse.
> As a minor example, consider how cookie prompts solved nothing.
(Disclaimer: not a lawyer)
I don't know about the original cookie law, but as for the horrible GDPR prompts, the GDPR is not mandating those at all - in fact, there is language in there that could be interpreted as forbidding them (denial of consent must not make the service unusable).
However, the GDPR goes head-on against the main business model conducted on the web and I imagine for many companies, fulfilling the GDPR in good faith is simply not possible because it would threaten the core of their business. So they add the prompts as something between a loophole and a cargo-cult action.
So yes, I think the tension between the GDPR and the tech business models is real and likely leads to unnecessary prompts as a result - but it's not as is the lawmakers demanded the prompts to be there.
Although I generally hate regulation, I must say that as a European I see a lot of good that comes with the bad. It's a shame the EU is somewhat forced into this leadership role, because it would be best to organize regulation of Big Tech on an even more international scale. If we could get more people at the table, we wouldn't have all those stupid cookie warnings and we could have regulation in place that succesfully targetted the root cause (the Ad tech cowboys).
> we wouldn't have all those stupid cookie warnings
Why wouldn't we? Those are the effect of web people not understanding the law. It doesn't matter whether the law is written by a more international alliance, they would still misunderstand it.
Another example: in the hey-day of the Web, a German court ruled that you cannot escape liability for slanderous statements on another web site you linked to, just by writing a disclaimer notice on your web site.
Because in that case the author had clearly endorsed it in many, many words, and the disclaimer was obviously not meant seriously.
From then on you could find the "the court has ruled that I'm responsible for linked content, unless I'm adding this disclaimer" notices everywhere. Including other courts' web pages.
Although the ruling was exactly opposite. People just copied and pasted this magic formula that would keep them out of trouble.
Or see the recent Instagram hoax, where you had to post some boilerplate text, in order to keep the rights to your content. Well-known celebrities fell for it.
People are stupid, they go with the flow, and they will get legal stuff wrong.
> Why wouldn't we? Those are the effect of web people not understanding the law. It doesn't matter whether the law is written by a more international alliance, they would still misunderstand it.
How is it not the law people not understanding the web?
How would you obtain consent from the user to store cookies without a pop-up or an even more disruptive method?
> How is it not the law people not understanding the web?
They clearly do and got input from technical people.
> “This shall not prevent any technical storage or access for the sole purpose of carrying out the transmission of a communication over an electronic communications network, or as strictly necessary in order for the provider of an information society service explicitly requested by the subscriber or user to provide the service.”
Are you talking about 1st party cookies vs 3rd party cookies?
Because the web people got that. The web is still polluted with cookie consent popups on 99 % of most used websites because 99 % of most used websites use 3rd party cookies.
If the law people understood the web they would not create regulations that forces every user in the continent to click a pop-up on every site they visit.
> Are you talking about 1st party cookies vs 3rd party cookies?
I do not need to be served personalised ad cookies in order for the site to provide their service to me.
ditto with analytics.
ditto with social sharing.
ditto with anything else that stores inessential information.
> 99 % of most used websites use 3rd party cookies
You're referring to "3rd party cookies" but it applies to ALL cookies that are not essential so I will answer with respect to all cookies...
Essentially, that's the company's problem. If they want to continue using cookies to store information(regardless if 1st or 3rd party) to do something that is not needed for me to use their service, then they have to inform the user and obtain consent.
If they find the cookies(& popups) result in less users using their service, they should change their behaviour or you know - actually check if they need these active all the time for everyone.
Please read the Description section of this primer before continuing to engage. It is very accessible.
I'm a little late with the answer, but what you're saying actually boils down to _law people not understanding the web_.
Using cookies (and pop-ups) does not result in less users using the service, at least not in a scale that outweighs the advantage of using cookies. The result is obvious: If you pass a law that requires websites to ask for consent to use their site, those websites will implement a method for collecting that consent.
If the law people had understood the web and actually wanted to protect user privacy, they would've outlawed those unwanted cookies. And not passed a ridiculous law for collecting consent that applies to almost every popular website in existence.
You ask me to read the regulation in detail as if I lack some insight in that (I don't). But the details of the regulation is irrelevant. The relevant understanding here is that websites will not turn of tracking unless it brings a substantial downside. It's crucial to the businesses behind those websites to be able to analyze traffic and usage with external tools.
Yeah, the legendary "Amtsgericht Hamburg" copypasta. From time to time I still stumble over this piece of text, mostly on very old websites. Reminds me of a better age of the internet, nevertheless.
Great username for you, too.
I guess the lawyers at my company told us to put a cookie banner on the site because they're web people who don't understand the law. Bummer.
>Why wouldn't we?
Because the only reason you're seeing them is that this is solved at the wrong level. The laws should have targetted browsers and adtech companies, not webmasters.
I think you're going to get more cookie warnings with more bureaucrats running the internet.
More cookies are a good thing ;) If I'm going to a site with "We value your privacy blah blah" I'm immediately turned off and leave.
we had a lot of EULA garbage, and support phone calls before the cookie warnings. Private enterprise loves red tape too.
The abundance of cookie warnings is a sign of the sorry state of the Web, not of bureaucrats gone wild.
I'm from the EU and I firmly believe that some level of regulation is a healthy development. GDPR, the cookie prompts and Article 13 are terrible though. There is no/slim real improvement to privacy and the costs are off the charts. It would have been better to spend those resources on education, healthcare, basic research or space travel. Such a crazy ongoing waste.
It was never going to work perfectly at first time of trying, especially when the industry is already mature and is set in its ways. As experience continues and education in privacy matters continue then I am confident things will get better. It has to, because privacy is important, so at least it's high on the agenda in one part of the world.
P.S. One of the benefits of the website tracking prompts is that if I can't turn off all tracking right there and then on the page then I know that that company treats visitors as the product, not the customer.
And how do you know that you can turn off all of the tracking then and there?
Well true, I don't know enough about tracking to say for sure, but I'm much more likely to trust a website if they don't obfuscate the options to turn off tracking.
I agree that Article 13 is a major misfiring. I really hate that narrative though where Article 13 and GDPR are lumped together as a "EU regulation bad" narrative. One (Article 13) is a major product of corporate lobbyism and misguided profits protection, the other (GDPR) is a major protection for consumers. They couldn't be more different.
As a EU citizen and person directly involved with GDPR consequences, I also strongly disagree with the view that GDPR is either ineffective or not worth it.
The trouble is that the people with power in the EU don't see this difference. They're convinced that Article 13 and the GDPR are both victories for the people against big tech, and that all the ordinary people who oppose Article 13 have just been tricked by Google into going against their own interests: https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20190215/18005841607/eu-co...
The media are naturally happy to go along with the big tech vs people narrative too. The BBC even ran an article about all the great things the European Parliament has achieved in the run-up to the European elections that described Article 13 as one of its successes and summarized the controversy as follows: "Supporters say the rule helps to ensure that artists, musicians and other creators are fairly compensated. But tech companies say it will destroy user-generated content." They pretended the remarkable public backlash which got many MEPs (though not enough) to vote against it just didn't exist, turning a demonstration of how little say the public had into a success story for European democracy. It's not like this was even a European Parliament achievement in the first place; the details of the bill were dictated by Germany and France and MEPs merely ignored voters' complaints to rubber-stamp it.
You're not an EU citizen. The EU doesn't grant citizenship.
GDPR doesn't do anything for consumers except annoy them. The vast majority, and I do mean the vast majority of consumers, don't care about internet "privacy" - as defined by web geeks - even one tiny bit. Most users actually want not only tech firms but the entire world to know what they had for dinner last night, what their favourite TV shows are and what random thought popped into their head 30 seconds ago. Products that focus on privacy all fail in the market because nobody cares.
The idea that the EU has to protect people by passing ultra-vague "privacy" laws is paternalistic nonsense. It no more enhances my privacy or my life than clicking through a million cookie warnings has done: I have exactly the same amount of privacy as before, but now my internet experience sucks. Does anyone in the Commission care? No, why would they? They got to tell themselves they did something good today, whilst ignoring that they did nothing of value.
Let's be clear again: nobody cares about internet privacy. In the EU's own polling the top concerns people in Europe have are:
3. The economy/jobs/state of government finances
The orderings of these move around over time but the top 3 are pretty stable. This year year climate change appeared too.
Internet privacy/online advertising doesn't appear anywhere in the list of top concerns. Go look at the Eurobarometer results and see for yourself.
So why is the EU spending so much time on this? Because they don't want to tackle people's actual concerns: they either don't know how or what people want is incompatible with EU ideology. For instance Immigration is still the biggest concern people have by far, but the EU wants lots more of it so the people's concerns will be ignored.
I like the GDPR. Since its introduction, removing my account and data has gotten easy. More importantly, in my experience people and organizations have started to ask for (irrelevant) personal information less and less. Furthermore, I now can ask them why and for what they want that information and I get a reasonable answer or it appears they do not need it anyway. Before I often got answers like "That is required", "Everyone needs to do this", "This is a government regulation" (almost never true), or "Because the system needs it", and it was difficult to get out of under it.
Personally I also like the GDPR and cookie walls on websites. When I get one I cannot get rid off by clicking "Decline" or something, most often I decide to not use that website after all. I do not feel I am missing anything and I see a lot less crap during my internet searches.
GDPR is spam in its own way and its unessecary burden on smaller companies.
That is just not true. In the UK at least, the ICO has begun prosecutions for breaches. There is, to me at least, a real change in awareness among devs about privacy and data security. Surely a sign it's working.
The ICO have prosecuted for breaches under pre-GDPR data protection law. The difference is the damages under DPA were statutorily limited to £500,000. GDPR fines are way higher than that and so it is actually worth pursuing violators.
I disagree. Just like with pretty much every aspect of life governments are lagged behind with regulation. It used to be not required wearing a seatbelt while driving a car. Now it is. It used to be that Google and Facebook could use anything they wanted to conduct unwarranted surveillance on you, not it is getting harder and harder.
OK, so what level of regulation would you like to see?
I can’t and won’t go into details, but the large companies I’m familiar with have largely completely overhauled how they treat customer data for the better as a result of GDPR.
I agree. GDPR is taken seriously, and there has been massive changes for better privacy as a result. It's not a facade.
GDPR is far (very far) from perfect, but it already has done wonders for big corporations. Where normally data would simply be shared (I received entire customer databases via e-mail), people now stop and wonder "Should we share this data? Do we have permission? Do we really need to store this?".
Good grief. All this power in the hands of a career politician, with no background in technology (she studied economics before becoming a politician).
I imagine we’ll see more ham-fisted attempts from the EU to regulate the internet in the immediate future.
As a UE citizen I very much approve of Vestager's activity, if I'm not mistaken she's one of the main reasons why we now pay close to nothing in terms of roaming charges whenever we visit another country (which is a very, very big thing).
If people like her had been more active even earlier in the internet space (think 2008-2010) maybe we wouldn't have had to deal with the current FANG oligopoly. I personally used to work for a local business directory whose data was almost instantly copied and used by the recently launched back then Google Places. There was no recourse for a company like ours back then (other then keeping our fingers crossed for the likes of Yelp in their fight against Google, which goes to say how helpless we were), so the fact that a person like Vestager now exists and has so much power to control this sort of bad behavior is all for the best.
EU certainly has good marketing. They do a few very obvious nice things for the consumers, like the roaming fees, and then nobody cares much about the rest – billions wasted on prestige projects, the economic and immigration crises, the terrible agricultural politics, the malicious copyright legislation, and so on.
> the economic and immigration crises,
Yes, nobody cares. Clearly, you've never heard about Brexit. Europe and immigration might have played a little role in that debate.
Or the rise of populism in Germany, France, the Netherlands and other countries.
Immigration is obviously such a non-issue that the AfD or the Front National (don't know the current name off the top of my head - they renamed) have absolutely capsized in recent elections.
Generalising, of course, but a lot of people don’t really care. Yes, the discontent is slowly growing, but it’s still small minorities that really oppose EU. All of western Europe (aside from the UK) have pro-EU governments at the moment.
Yeah, but most of Western Europe also has a pro-EU majority at the moment. You may just call it marketing, but stuff like Schengen, free trade, cultural exchange programs, funding for underdeveloped regions, and yes, EU roaming, are very popular. Of course, you can call each and every political achievement "just marketing", but then the term becomes meaningless and just demonstrates bias.
> most of Western Europe also has a pro-EU majority at the moment.
Depends a lot on how you ask the question. The pro-EU governments are working to turn EU into a superstate. The great majority of people don’t want that.
But thanks to the big visible benefits, like not having to change money, show your passport and pay roaming fees when going on vacation, most people still have a generally favorable opinion of EU, that lets them get away with their vision of the "ever closer union", despite the lack of democratic support of it.
It’s a common problem of indirect democracy. People really care about issue A and B, and elect politicians that align with them on those issues. Those politicians then have a free hand to go against the will of the people on everything else, leading to lots and lots of things happening without a democratic mandate.
If you only get one vote every 4-5 years, it’s almost impossible to make that vote count for all the decisions that’ll need to be made in between.
> Depends a lot on how you ask the question. The pro-EU governments are working to turn EU into a superstate. The great majority of people don’t want that.
Please show evidence of that statement. I'm not seeing anyone really pushing for federalism, in fact quite the opposite, holding the current group of countries model but with stronger ECB (bank) and ECJ (court) to prevent failures like Greece and Spain had.
Some slight moves to harmonize trade laws have happened, but not a lot. Some more in banking laws.
The first meeting of EU leaders after Brexit was devoted, entirely, to discussing the apparently urgent EU army.
Guess how much time they spent discussing that the EU was just rejected completely by the biggest vote in British history: none whatsoever.
The EU isn't even federalising, really. It's just centralising. That's happening despite the fact that very few want it because they aren't allowed to disagree.
New treaties aren't being signed, but that doesn't matter: the existing treaty is self amending and anyway, the ECJ can be relied on to always re-interpret the treaties to grant the EU new powers it was explicitly not meant to have. The Kafkaesque way they decided that state aid rules allowed the EU to control corporate tax rates is an example of that: the Commission was never given that power, explicitly and by design, but they took it anyway. With a corrupt Supreme Court ideologically devoted to increasing executive power, treaties and laws don't mean anything.
So I'd argue if you can't see it happening you're not paying attention.
> The first meeting of EU leaders after Brexit was devoted, entirely, to discussing the apparently urgent EU army.
The Brexit vote was on 2016-6-23. The next EU Council meeting was on 2016-6-28. According to the minutes  and conclusios the Council discussed the Syrian refugee crisis, economics, external relations and the Brexit vote. No EU army was discussed, the only defence-related thing was EU-NATO cooperation.
> Guess how much time they spent discussing that the EU was just rejected completely by the biggest vote in British history: none whatsoever.
Immediately after this Council meeting the EU27 (all member states sans the UK) met in an informal meeting whose whole topics were of course Brexit and the state of the European Union.
The minutes of that meeting merely say that Theresa May informed them of the outcome, which they all knew already of course. It says nothing else. Quite possibly nobody else spoke.
The meeting I'm referring to is this one
In the years since the vote I haven't seen the EU agree on any changes triggered by the vote or even really discuss why it happened. From the agendas of their meetings you could think it'd never happened at all.
In recent local elections AfD more than doubled their previous results and is the second biggest Party in every of those local parliaments.
You need to adjust your irony detector.
> EU certainly has good marketing.
Surely you're kidding? The EU historically has terrible problems in transparency, effective communication of policies and general reputation problems because of the distance between it and its citizens. They have terrible marketing, famously so.
The EU is terrible in many ways. But all the big infrastructure project they fund with prominent EU branding (this bridge/airport/tunnel was kindly funded by the EU) as well as consumer initiatives like the roaming rules are all excellent marketing.
This sounds like bad faith argument, surely the EU investing billions in infrastructure or adopting consumer protection is not just marketing? That's a lot of effort to go through just to get the EU flag in people's faces.
Even if this is a bad faith argument - and it's fine if it is - that only serves to illustrate the EU's 'marketing' is not effective.
No, some of the infrastructure is of course useful in itself (although a good chunk is wasted, like this lovely report explains: https://www.eca.europa.eu/Lists/ECADocuments/SR14_21/QJAB140... ), but the prominent signs and flags proclaiming that said infrastructure was funded by the EU is certainly marketing.
You have no idea, in EU projects, even big ones, sometimes 66% or even more was from EU restructuring or agricultural funds, at least in Poland. A few extra from innovation and science funds, but those are peanuts.
I think you dropped an /s
Yeah, because professional technologists are doing such a great job in US. Proliferation of monopolies, privacy scandals and elections meddling are primary examples of how great it’s going. Not to mention your companies are basically demanding tax breaks to actually pay tax at all. Woohoo, greatest democracy on the planet.
> Proliferation of monopolies, privacy scandals and elections meddling are primary examples of how great it’s going. Not to mention your companies are basically demanding tax breaks to actually pay tax at all.
All of these can be found in EU, the same regulatory capture, retarded copyright laws pushed by media industry, blatant nepotism (German officials lobbying for Gazprom, Deutsche Bank bribing Russian officials buying deals by giving good positions to Russian officials' children while evading taxes) etc.
The only difference is that IT is a scorched field in EU, so no regulatory capture in this domain.
She has a track record of understanding tech quite well. Cannot see the downsides of her also being an educated politician.
At least she's elected by the people of Europe. No, sorry, I got that wrong. As with all the other commissioners, the only ones able to initiate legislation affecting everyone in the EU, she's appointed by an elite clique who know how to deal with recalcitrant folk in Denmark, France and Ireland whose majority vote is ignored. As someone remarked ' We have no power to sack them. They don't have to account for their actions. We can't elect them but we can download a poster picture of them.'
The European Commission is accountable to the directly-elected European Parliament.
Parliament will hold hearings over the next month to scrutinise the Commissioner Designates and will then hold a vote to approve the entire college of Commissioners.
And this process has, actually, resulted in unsuitable candidates being either replaced entirely or portfolios being redistributed in the past (including the last time around in 2014).
Parliament can also sack the Commission at any time if it so desires. That last happened to the Santer Commission in 1999.
In addition to the confirmation vote by the Parliament (which will be tough this time ... considering the president only had a single vote majority) they are also nominated by the national governments (each government a commissioner) thus the differences in countries are represented as well.
This is more democratic legitimation than most ministers in most state governments have, where ministers are often appointed by the head of government without confirmation. (The EU commission is similar to a government and commissioners are similar to ministers in their role)
The EU Parliament is much like the Supreme Soviet. It has votes. There are elections. Things are set up such that this can only change small details around the edges in ways the elites already approve of, nothing fundamental.
Look at how the head of the Commission was chosen. Remember, the entire Commission reports to one person. The sub-Commissioners are theoretically (by treaty) nominated by each country but in practice the head of the Commission controls all the appointments. As Jean-Claude Juncker openly admitted, if he didn't like an appointment he'd simply reject it. He isn't meant to have this power, but claims he does and I believe him. The EU is full of things like that.
So the entire Commission reports to von der Leyen. How did this woman get the job? Nobody can tell you. The decision was made in secret. No minutes of those meetings were published. No leader justified the decision. If there was a vote at all, nobody can see which countries voted for her or why. It just ... happened. Literally the only statement I've seen about what criteria was used was, "it'd be great if this time we had a woman", which came from some EU President (there are several and I forgot which one). So I guess that must have been why she got the job.
Theoretically the Parliament can pick the head of the Commission. When they picked Juncker last time around, the EU went along with it and liked to claim it was getting more democratic as a result. But this time, when MEPs committed the hopelessly un-woke crime of nominating a man, their nomination was ignored.
In true Soviet style, the EU Parliament got a vote ... but because MEPs didn't want the terminally incompetent von der Leyen, it had to be fixed. No problem - MEPs were presented with a vote in which von der Leyen was the only candidate they could vote for!
Despite her being literally the only candidate on the voting paper, so many abstained from this farce she still got the lowest number of votes in history.
So that's the EU. There are votes, there are politicians, there's a Parliament. Just that none of them matter.
You forget to mention that the head of the commission "Ursula v.d. Leyen" never was a candidate. The candidate that campaigned for election called "Manfred Weber" suddenly stepped down right after the election and "Ursula" was installed. This is the most blatant anti-democratic thing I've ever seen.
But it gets worse: Ursula v.d. Leyen has a history of trying to implement countrywide internet cencorship in Germany (and is since called "Zensursula"). And could only be stopped because of a gigantic rise of the Pirate Party (now defunct) to levels that became dangerous to the establishment.
That's misleading. It wasn't a bait-and-switch. In fine EU tradition there was long drawn-out horse-trading and compromise and settlement on a candidate tolerable enough to be accepted by 28 different countries and the European Parliament. Enough country leaders felt strongly enough that they couldn't accept Weber that they didn't endorse him.
The Spitzenkandidat system isn't law per se - it's a (very new) convention mostly being pushed by the European Parliament. The European Council (that is, the presidents, prime ministers and chancellors of each EU country) has always had to give or withhold an endorsement to whoever the European Parliament proposed to lead the European Commission.
The point is if people knew that they would get v.d. Leyen they never would have voted for EVP. The voter has apparently zero control over who gets the most powerful position in the EU. Note that commissioners not only have exectuive power but also legistlive power. Hence the EU is inherently undemocratic, a blatant power grap by the elites that needs to be abolished entirely ASAP.
Do you get to elect your defense or sports minister in your country?
In most EU countries: Yes. They are elected members of the Parliament who are assigned a portfolio by the prime minister. To be clear: someone elected them, in the example of Ireland a jurisdiction like Kerry would elect a number of parliament members and the prime minister could select any elected members from their party to form the cabinet.
she's an elected member of the Denmark parliament.
Yeah, all the power in EU is vested within unelected officials. Their so-called parliament is a farce to give EU a veneer of democracy.
States regularly fail to reign in their own most powerful industries due to regulatory capture, so other states have to do it. It's better than nothing.
EU is pretty captured, too. The copyright stuff that passed earlier this year is one massive boondoggle for the publishing industry.
Sure it is, but mostly by EU companies.
The deficiencies you've mentioned are real. However, given the less than impressive performance of individuals to date in the US and Europe who are allegedly qualified, she's can only be an improvement.
What kind of ass-backwards logic is this? This is exactly the kind of thinking that got us Trump. “Qualified people aren’t cutting it, so let’s bring in somebody completely unqualified to shake things up”.
Saying she's unqualified is a bit of a stretch - five years as a competition commissioner shows she has some relevant experience even if she's lacking in terms of an academic and industry background.
In what way is Vestager not qualified? Is there an example of an action she has taken that a more qualified person wouldn't have?
The problem is that pretty much the only way to be thoroughly qualified is to work for one of the companies that is about to be regulated. That is called the revolving door and it's bad.
Trump is incompetent and corrupt.
A woman should be called a Tsaritsa (Царица). A Czar/Tsar is a man.
Wouldn't it be "Tsarina" when Anglicized?
For that matter, why does the gender need to be baked into a title unrelated to gender? We don't have separate occupational titles for female engineers, taxi drivers, or astronauts, so why for tsars? Not trying to push any agendas here, just posing a question.
FYI: You borrow word from a language that has gender information baked in almost every word - that is why there is separate word. Ignoring this is pushing an agenda - conscious or not.
Both ways are mentioned on Wikipedia https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tsarina but Tsarina is clearly more common https://trends.google.com/trends/explore?geo=US&q=Tsarina,Ts.... Mine's true to the original, it's the same letter that's Anglicised as "ts" in the beginning, Ц.
English also has "Empress" ("императрица" is what they were called formally) and it would be derogatory to call her King Elizabeth.
I would assume it’s because the word has been taken from a gendered language, where most words have gender baked in.
Any idea why powerful bureaucrats are called Czars? Why not Dukes, for example? Drug Duke..
Czar meas emperor, so the highest authority. Not sure why czar and not emperor though.
It comes, via a long path that includes “kaiser”, from Caesar. One of the early Ivans started using it, it stuck, and even when they tried changing to imperator people kept using tsar/czar. In English it seems to be used informally to describe the person in charge even if the are more of a figurehead than a locus of actual authority.
czar has an connotation of tyranny while emperor has varying levels of control. Contemporary to russian czar we have the much less powerful hre emperor and the japanese emperor controlled by the shogun.
Maybe to skew the interpretation? Maybe to plant a seed of doubt on how pernitious their role is?
Why not tech fuhrer?
(Godwin's law in action)
Exactly right. How the hell did GDPR sneak into being over the course of many years, and now it hits everyone including small business like a train in the face?
Will Euros have moral conviction for once and demand that GDPR is repealed?
Thank the gods U.K. is Brexiting