Sunday 18 August 2019

Video: little fire as EU Commission hopefuls hold first debate in Maastricht

Five people, including two Dutch nationals, who vying to become the next European Commission president and replace Jean-Claude Juncker held their first debate in Maastricht on Monday night.

But the sparring ‘fell flat in the absence of Manfred Weber, candidate of the largest political group,’ website Euractiv said. Weber, the Spitzenkandidat for the European People’s Party (EPP), which includes the Dutch CDA, had bowed out, citing a commitment in Bavaria.

During the debate, the five candidates touched on issues as diverse as the gig economy and coal-fired power stations.

Euractiv said if there was one message from all the candidates it was that Europe needs to regulate technological giants such as Google, Amazon and Facebook.

‘These tech companies use the data you give them for free and they make billions in profits,’ Socialist candidate and former Dutch minister Frans Timmermans said, adding that the EU should ensure that large tech companies are properly taxed and that citizens retain ownership and control over their data.

Green grouping candidat Bas Eickhout, who is also Dutch, said tech companies ‘need to make sure they also play according to the European rules, so we need to make sure there is full transparency on advertisement.

A survey after the debate said Timmermans was the clear winner, with 43% support, followed by Eickhout on 36%.

A second debate will take place in Florence, Italy, on May 2.

Read the Euractiv report on the debate

Read Politico’s blog of the debate

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