MPW London 2019: A Conversation with Vera Jourova of the European Commission
Věra Jourová, the European Commission's Commissioner for Justice, Consumers, and Gender Equality, talks with Fortune's Maithreyi Seetharaman about Brexit, big tech, and how she has "dreamt about having a nickname from President Trump."
very was carrying a glass of champagne that she told me she'd bring up on stage left. She left images, image, images, Image for the one image that she does have is being absolutely blunt, which is a rarity. And the Brussels bubble. If I can say that you are frank, you are brutally frank. So give us your take on President Donald Trump and your relationship or your view of him since he's visiting tonight. And we've already lost one of our major guests to Buckingham ballots. Good evening, ladies. It's a pleasure for me to be here. It was a while ago before I got this first question, while by my view on Mr President Trump, I love the Duchess of Sussex. And I think that I sometimes use Mr Trump. The example is the case, because when I try to encourage the European women to go to politics and to increase the number off politicians in the Parliament, I always say, Do we need Mr Trump in Europe? Do we let this happen because in the Congress know after the elections that are more women? So this is my relationship to him, and by the way of I really dreamt about having a nickname from Mr Trump because he gave a nickname Thio. My colleague Margaret West Aga, who is the champion in fighting for fair competition in the U And I think he called her that horrible texts. Lady and I dreamt about being called that horrible privacy lady and I really try to figure out what to do to him till the end of my mandate, which should come in October. Well, you're getting there. I will see a round of applause. Um, you mentioned the European Parliament and more women being in the European Parliament of elections just thought over. As you see the shaping off not just the European Parliament and the number of people that came out. The turnout was so high that he had a record turnout for the European elections. When you look at Mr Trump across the ocean and you look at the rise of populism in Europe itself, do you find that concerning considering your background, considering your experiences and considering the fact that one of the main things that you've gone out and done is to try and protect European citizens? Oh, well, I think that the higher turnout in the elections means that the people in Europe realized that the European Union really matters on. After all, the results are not that bad. There was some apocalyptic visions that the number of populism nationalists will double and that we will have totally inefficient European Parliament which didn't come through but at the same John speaking about the populace. I always have a problem. Is that those who you said I am brutally at and then we'll be brutal. I will say it those who shelter most that we have to fight against populace and nationalists. They sometimes hide that they don't have a lot to offer. I think that the Democrats I'm liberals, liberals should offer solutions for the people which will increase their feeling off dignity and which will decrease their feeling off inequality and injustice. I think that we should do button. We probably promised good things in the elections because the results are not so bad. So when you look at the makeup as we go into a new European Parliament, a new European commission, a new European Central Bank governor, all of the five presidents are going to have a major change What can we look forward to in the next five years, going into a brand new decade that's going to be different on that's going to resonate with people in the ground so that the populist don't get the larger voice? What do you think? Well, I do hope that in those five big positions, there will be people which you have strong sense off reality that they will not keep dreaming about about the nice future. And using the phrase is, I think that we all need the people in high positions. Who will I'm fine with. It sounds horrible, but who will tell the people the truth? And who will have courage also to say unpopular things and to offer the solutions which are workable, which will which will help Europe to get through all the turbulent times in which will stabilize the situation and speaking for the five jobs? Five. For four years we've been about sometimes six shops. That idea, I think, very good ideas that there should be gender balance, and I believe we have a very strong women who could accuse by so some of these high position, because I do believe that if there are more women among the rule makers. I'm not only a roast acres. If we have more women in those positions Aah! Europe will be safer and better place to live. Well, staying with the blunt spirit, we did have a female prime minister or we still do for a few more days in this country. When you look at London, when you look out the UK on the breakfast scenario, I know this room is a bit regs, that tired. How tired are you of the word Brexit and having a conversation consistently about it in Brussels after today's encounter with British tabloid, I am pretty fed up of Brexit Really? Because every word you say is abused somehow against fuel Well, off course way need Thio. We all need to see the light at the end of the tunnel because this is unprecedented situation and off course. We politicians have a headache off all the negotiations on the different options on the hesitations on the British side. But what about the people who live in uncertainty? What about the U. K citizens living on the continent and by several Europeans living on on the British islands? They some of them but denied to cast their vote. Now in the European elections, which has to be investigated, how this could have happened and the people live in uncertainty. And I think that we have a responsibility, the lack of responsibility. I think it's the key, the thing which which I see very problematic. Do you think that we could pick up negotiations under a new government and under new leadership for this, like the doors closed? Well, politics is the future where we make compromises. But from the European side, we still believe that the British partners will decide what they want and that they will clearly say yes, this is what we want. We have the majority for it and we will go for it and how I still believe in spite of all that headache and all that very troublesome period, we we have behind us and maybe ahead of us so that we can find we must find a solution when the U and the United Kingdom will be strong bottler who will trust each other and who will be able to cooperate very closely. I still believe this is possible. We have to do everything to do that. Do you trust Big Tex? You let a big battle. But privacy they didn't bore me. This lady is so dangerous for me. This is trust and check exercises. Big tax. We have the gpr. When you were in introduce introducing me, it's a zit. The monster will come to the stage. I'm a normal person, but the GPR it's quite terrible set off through it should guarantee the protection of privacy. So the way we have to be very tough and we are very tough. We have some other regulations which in company in consumers policy, which I clearly said to the big attack coming from California from Trump Silicon Valley. These are European rules and we have very demanding European consumers who expect you to comply with our European standard. This is not the case that you will import Californian law to you. But then there are also areas where I believe in agreement with the high tech. Speaking about removing hate speech still in Europe, we rely on the agreement that they will be removing his speech, that they will clean up, that they will proactively cultivate the space we occupy on Dhere the agreement more or less wax. I spoke to two Milli Ah, quite quite a lot off managers off Victor companies who confirmed to me that they don't want to be the instrument for terrorism, hate speech, child pornography and many other fake news. This information for spreading off all those horrible things that they don't feel themselves goat in such situation that it must not intended to happen on Dhere. I trust that they want to do more. So So you see it. It's a kind of love and hate and my future Indian name one day maybe will be that the one who can sort the Facebook account Indeed what I did and it created a lot off fate. Wait, Uh, how come that politician can cancel a Facebook account? You will be dead the next next month. How very communicative of people. While I'm still alive. And I did it already two years ago you had a Facebook account. Then you shut it down. The global matted up I will put up with it. So here's my question for you. Because your grandmother at one point I understand told you that a woman doesn't isn't don't hurt she should not be heard on. You made sure that you've gone pretty much in the opposite direction. Who being heard? But you've had it. You feet Quite a significant personal price. Um, very. For those who don't know in the room went to jail for 33 days for a crime that she was cleared off. It was almost a setup. And in some ways it put her on this journey that has taken her to the European Commission as the commissioner for Justice on Even made her go out and get a law degree just to make sure that this didn't happen again. You come from Eastern Europe, your daughter, your life. You paid a huge price. Tell us a little bit about that. Thank you for asking me that. This is a long time ago and it doesn't hurt me so much anymore. In fact, I was accused of corruption by the people who stole the money from the national budget. They wanted to remove me from the ministry and to have a three right to use the money. And I didn't know that this can happen in the state where there is a respectable Ro Flo I simply didn't I realize that they can accuse me off corruption. It was It was a horrible accusation. I was so badly offended by that. And, uh, they would be to jail, and I off horribly shocked. And I didn't know how my Children took it outside. There was no no possibility off contact. Uh, my the moment when they detained me was shot by all the television. Uh, a little about a spectacular moment. It was a dirty political game. And your daughter had paid a significant price for it. Well, yeah, uh, my daughter I was there for 23 days, and then I went home and my daughter collapsed. And, uh, she and the psychologists say that when you have a shock which you cannot swallow, something can happen to you. And she had, like, switched off, and she was three or four months in bag, and I was teaching her again to walk and, uh, the picture or horrible on dhe fantastic time for us because we were, after all together, I was always doing a career not having time ful my Children. And suddenly I had my daughter and bat not ableto move and she told me Redeem a fairy tale. I'm so happy that you are here with me. And she was 17. I speak about almost adult lady. And yet you kept going with this journey off. Um, getting your voice heard getting your opinions heard when you look at that personal journey that you went through on you Look at your role in Brussels today and the fact that you grew up behind, um, the Iron Curtain. How much does that really influence? The way you try to communicate the divide sometimes that is perceived between east and west. The divide that sometimes a scene between information floats. How much of all of those personal journeys of yours really influence here? I would really like to build bridges between the Western East because that are a lot of misunderstanding on the West Side that I think that there is a kind of conviction that the should imitate the West and the is it a lot. We adopted a lot off legislation, and we reform the institutions and really tried hard. But we cannot lose from some kind of spirit and mentality and historical connections. And I think that there is still some remaining minute misunderstanding that we in the East. We don't want to imitate the West. We wanted to come to the U to enrich you by a special kind off experience and traditions and culture. This was the Czech president, Vaclav Havel, who used to say the Sri our toe join you because of the money and prosperity. It's better not to do that. They want to come to the club off European countries and bring something with us. And this is what I would like to in courage and hope in the spirit off bringing something to the table because there will be with us through dinner. And make sure you bump into her because she's a lot of fun. We've got 30 seconds to go through some questions that could be conversation starters for all of you. Right? First answer that comes to mind. Favorite song. Hey, Jude. The Czech version. Yeah. Can we hum it? No, she's a singer. Give up, Give up. Give it a shot. No. Yes. Go on. You can do that. Who will play? Yeah, Well, plea. Oh, no one's gonna play if you want to. Just come in here. That's good. just just a little bit. Yes. Hey, Theo. So there are a lot but your body a visible the sin in my eye and money U N Peace Neat trick bar the Prudhoe stubble. Hey! Hey, you! Hey, don't be included. A barrel a booty. Bobby Who ducks ball? You don't know this century, do you? I could invent something first for a year's intimation. You did that last three questions. Favorite book, I think Kundera. The Unbearable Lightness being David TV show TV show only the ones that I am display. Um I don't know. Okay, Best needs to eat in Brussels. I am prohibited to say that it's the canteen in the commission bested by If you ever got Don't hunch it was the advice off my arm high. What keeps you up at night? Ah, some off the nightmares. The British tabloids? Yeah, the horrible stories. The people write me my email. I am Justice Commissioner. I get the news about injustice. Well, on that note, favorite fellow you Commissioner, if she answers, this is gonna be a miracle. Favorite fellow. You Commissioner. There you go. I gotta Hey, Jude and an honest town as Estonian Vice president, But he's very honest and special personality. Well, on that note Thank you for your honesty, honor. Thank you. Okay.