Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders will take over as the European Commission’s competition chief, after Margrethe Vestager announced that she had gone on leave to run for the presidency of the European Investment Bank (EIB).
Vestager had earlier agreed to go on leave when her candidacy for the EIB became official. If she’s picked to head the lender by finance ministers at a September 15-16 meeting, she would then resign and Denmark would put forward a new commissioner. Should she not get the job, she’ll return to her role in charge of digital and competition policy.
Her temporary absence caused a big reshuffle of the Commission’s portfolios.
“The President has decided to assign the steering and coordination responsibility for ‘A Europe Fit for the digital age’ to Vice-President Jourová, and the portfolio responsibility for Competition to Commissioner Reynders, who will report directly to the President for this responsibility,” the Commission said in a statement. “The President has also decided to temporarily assign the portfolio responsibility for Innovation and Research to Vice-President Schinas until a new Member of the Commission replacing Former Commissioner Gabriel is appointed.”
The Belgian Reynders, 65, would be in the hot seat just as the Commission rolls out a list of Big Tech companies subject to tougher regulation and ahead of a potential veto of a travel deal. He previously served as Belgium’s foreign affairs, defense and finance minister and comes from the same Renew Europe party grouping as Vestager.