Reding Denies ‘Friend Of Business’ Accusations

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Commissioner Viviane Reding has denied having close links to businesses while undergoing questioning ahead of her transfer to a new role in the EU

EU Commissioner Viviane Reding has denied accusations that her role overseeing Information Society and Media means that she has close links to businesses which would impact her new role in the Commission for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship.

Responding to questions from a panel at the Justice Commission, part of the reassignment process, Reding denied newspaper reports cited by the panel which apparently accused her of being a “friend of business” – something that could cause issues for her potential new role as Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship. “Ms Reding said that the telecoms industry, with which she had dealt in her current portfolio, would disagree. She added that a balance needs to be struck between the rights of the industry and those of the consumers,” the European Parliament reported.

Reding has an gained an uncompromising reputation in her dealings with telecoms companies over the years. Reding made her name by taking on the incumbent fixed line and mobile operators, forcing them to ditch many anti-competitive practices, including opposing German operator Deutsche Telekom in its plan to build a new fibre network in Germany, but not open it up to its rivals. She also took on the mobile operators over price cuts to mobile roaming and data services tariffs, and the UK government over the controversial web monitoring tool Phorm. Under her watch, Reding has overseen the approval of the EC Telecoms Reform Package.

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Reding also responded to questions over the issue of data protection. “You can be very sure that fundamental rights and data protection will be top of the line,” she said. “We will not let anyone dictate to us rules that go against fundamental rights on anti-terrorism grounds (…) our need for security cannot justify any violation of privacy. We should never be driven by fear, but by values.”

The reshuffle of Reding, and competition commissioner Neelie Kroes, was announced last November. The commissioners must now gain approval from the European Parliament in January before taking up their new offices.

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Kroes has been a thorn in the side of companies such as Microsoft and Oracle, and she will now become the digital agenda commissioner and will oversee European Network and Information Security Agency (Enisa) and the Information Society Directorate General.


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