Former Estonian prime minister Andrus Ansip, who is looking to become the European Commission vice president for the digital single market, faced his confirmation hearing before European Parliament Monday night.
Ansip, 58, known for his political longevity and his love of endurance sport competitions, told MEPs (0:52 in the video) before the hearing that he had walking pneumonia, but his illness didn't seem to dent his performance in the session, which is capped by procedural rules at three hours.
Besides its function in the political process, the confirmation hearing is often considered a chance to field softball questions and market the country, ERR's Brussels correspondent Johannes Tralla reported, which in Estonia's case is relatively easy in this field, given its achievements.
MEPs asked about data protection, online commerce, the future of public e-services, and cyber security, ETV reported.
In his introductory remarks, Ansip said he would continue his predecessor's track to abolishing roaming charges in the EU and broadening access to 4G Internet for people in the countryside.
The New York Times focused on comments Ansip made regarding EU data-sharing agreements with the United States. Ansip suggested that Europe may halt data-sharing agreements with the US if it does not improve how EU's citizens' online information is protected.
“Americans have to deliver and provide real trust to European citizens,” said Ansip, referencing an agreement between the EU and the US which allows American companies to move data to the US as long as they follow the same privacy rules as in the EU.
“If we don’t get clear answers, suspension has to stay as an option,” he said.
The European Voice wrote that Ansip "impressed" with clear communication and said he even threw some surprises into the mix in his answers. The Voice's take was that he suggested copyright rules could be radically reformed under his tenure. It also lauded Ansip for being more than just a pro-business candidate, but an IT person and an online ethicist's candidate.
The most overtly unfriendly question came from Estonian MEP Indrek Tarand, who asked about Ansip's communist past and how he could still call himself pro-European. Ansip, who played a small role in breaking up a pro-independence demonstration in Tartu in February 1988, replied that his party membership was common knowledge.
"Estonians also know that I was the mayor of Estonia's second largest city for six years. People know that I was elected to Parliament four times and they know details about my past," he said. "My party and I got the most votes at the EP elections. My past is transparent, I have nothing to hide."
CORRECTION: Ansip is 58, not 57 as previously reported.