Big tech accountability? Read how we got here in  The Closing of the Net 

The proposed new European Commissioners will be questioned  by the European Parliament this week. Amazingly, there are four who will have some form of responsibility for policy related to copyright and the Internet. What should the Parliament be asking about? Let's meet them...


***Watch Viviane Reding being questioned live! ***


Viviane Reding

Commissioner-designate, Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship

As Commissioner for Information Society, Viviane Reding  has done a 360 U-turn from supporting graduated response/3-strikes measures, to supporting the fundamental rights of Internet users. On her watch,  the so-called ‘copyright hooks' were mysteriously inserted into the Telecoms Package. Also on her watch, a policy for a Europe-wide 3-strikes began to be formulated, although it has since taken a back seat (and hopefully been put on a very dusty back shelf).  

In her statement at the end of the Telecoms Package negotiations on 5 November 2009, she said " a 3-strikes law which would cut people off the Internet without a prior procedure will certainly not become part of European law".

She will be questioned by the Civil Liberties and the  Womens Rights committees and Sharon Bowles, chair of the Legal Affairs committee.


Neelie Kroes

Commissioner-designate, Digital Agenda

Neelie Kroes must have been  a big Rolling Stones fan, because  as Commissioner for Competition,  she appeared delighted to be photographed with Mick Jagger  at a round-table on copyright. Her round-table also included other venerables of old industry, such as the head of  LVMH, makers of Louis Vuitton,  who are noted for their lack of sympathy towards the Internet and its users.

We have higher hopes for her, if she is succesful in getting the Information Society portfolio. Net neutrality has been put onto her agenda by the European Parliament.


She will grilled by the ITRE (Industry)  committee.


Michel Barnier

Commissioner-designate, Internal Market  and Services

Michel Barnier is unknown to Brussels, but the fact that he is French and appointed by President Nicholas Sarkozy should tell us something about his likely attitude to copyright matters. As Internal Market Commissioner he will hold the portfolio for copyright and for  the new IPR Enforcement Observatory. His DG has begun to hold an annual conference on IPR Enforcement, where pro-copyright MEPs cosy up to the likes of the IFPI.

We must not let him forget that the real solution to the copyright online issue lies in his hands, and it is to sort the collecting societies and enable multi-territory rights for Internet publication.


He will answer questions from  Arlene McCarthy, chair of the Monetary Affairs ( ECON) committee,   and Malcolm Harbour, chair of the Internal Market (IMCO) committee.  


Karel de Grucht

Commissioner-designate, Trade

Karel de Grucht, is a Belgian politician and a lawyer. He has published an article entitled "No man is an island - On democracy, liberty and human rights",  and therefore creates expectations that he  will protect the fundamental rights of European citizens. This will concern him in respect of the ACTA dossier which he will be taking over from Baroness Ashton. ACTA - Anti-counterfeiting Trade Agreement - seeks to get a global agreement on 3-strikes measures and secondary liability for ISPs in relation to  copyright and has  many implications for fundamental rights.

His interrogators will be the International Trade committee.


La Quadrature du Net has put forward some questions for all of  them,  across a range of issues from ACTA and WIPO, and copyright term extension,  to net neutrality, Internet blocking and fundamental rights.

MEPs should certainly ask about how they propose to implement the divergent EU policies which on the one hand would block the Internet and are pushing for ever tougher measures against Internet users, with the policy which put the Digital Economy at the forefront of the financial recovery. 


Full details of the Commissioners-designate are on the European Parliament website. 

The hearings will available via webcast , starting tomorrow. 


This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial-Share Alike 2.5 UK:England and Wales License. It may be used for non-commercial purposes only, and the author's name should be attributed. The correct attribution for this article is: Monica Horten (2010) Meet the new EU Commissioners for Copyright

, 12 January 2010 .

Iptegrity in brief is the website of Dr Monica Horten. I’ve been analysing analysing digital policy since 2008. Way back then, I identified how issues around rights can influence Internet policy, and that has been a thread throughout all of my research. I hold a PhD in EU Communications Policy from the University of Westminster (2010), and a Post-graduate diploma in marketing.   I’ve served as an independent expert on the Council of Europe  Committee on Internet Freedoms, and was involved in a capacity building project in Moldova, Georgia, and Ukraine. I am currently (from June 2022)  Policy Manager - Freedom of Expression, with the Open Rights Group. For more, see About Iptegrity is made available free of charge for  non-commercial use, Please link-back & attribute Monica Horten. Thank you for respecting this.

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