Reding has been one of the Commission’s most prominent personalities and has had big successes, including the cap on roaming charges.
Her run-ins with member states in the past, along with the candidacy of Jean-Claude Juncker (a fellow Luxembourger) and the European People’s Party’s ‘profile’ of a Commission president as a current or former prime minister, were probably factors in her dropping her bid to be Commission President in January 2014. She was elected to the European Parliament in May and while a return to the Commission is not completely out of the question, she may instead now have her eyes on a major role as an MEP.
Viviane Reding was born in 1951 in Esch-sur-Alzette, Luxembourg. After spells in the Luxembourg and European Parliaments, she became Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport in 1999. During her time in that position she was awarded the Gold Medal of European Merit (2001), the Robert Schuman Medal and the Prince of Asturias International Cooperation Prize (2004).
In 2004 she became Commissioner for Information Society and Media, launching – and winning – a major battle against telecom companies by capping roaming charges.
In 2009 she became a Vice-President of the Commission responsible for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship. Her outspoken style has won her plaudits, but enemies too – including the French government in 2010 when she labelled the mass explusion of Roma and the elimination of Roma camps as a “disgrace”.
She has been a vocal advocate of gender equality, pushing forward a legal quota for female representation on company boards. She said that “thankfully, European laws on important topics like this are not made by nine men in dark suits behind closed doors, but rather in a democratic process”, in response to criticism from male permanent representatives to the EU.
Viviane Reding was also the driving force behind a series of Commission-backed ‘citizens’ debates’ ahead of the European elections.