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Neelie Kroes

Assumed office 
November 22, 2004
President José Manuel Barroso
Preceded by Mario Monti

In office
November 4, 1982 – November 7, 1989
Prime Minister Ruud Lubbers
Preceded by Henk Zeevalking
Succeeded by Hanja Maij-Weggen

In office
May 27, 1981 – November 4, 1982

In office
December 28, 1977 – September 11, 1981
Prime Minister Dries van Agt
Preceded by Michel van Hulten
Succeeded by Jaap van der Doef

Born 19 July 1941 (1941-07-19) (age 68)
Rotterdam, Netherlands
Birth name Neelie Kroes
Nationality Dutch
Political party VVD
Spouse(s) Wouter Jan Smit (Divorced)
Bram Peper (1991-2003)
Residence Brussels, Belgium
Alma mater Erasmus University Rotterdam (Drs.)
University of Hull (Dr.h.c.mult)
Occupation Politician
Civil Servant
Religion Reformed Protestant

Neelie Kroes (born July 19, 1941) is a Dutch politician of the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy and since November 22, 2004 the European Commissioner for Competition.

Neelie Kroes was a Member of Parliament in the Netherlands for the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD). Later she was the Dutch State Secretary and Minister of Transport, Public Works and Water Management. Neelie Kroes was member of the board of commissioners of several multinationals.


Career before politics

Kroes went to a Protestant grammar school in Rotterdam. She continued on a Protestant high school. In 1958 she went to study economics at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam. In 1961, Kroes was praeses of the R.V.S.V. (the largest Rotterdam sorority). She was also elected as a member of the University Council. After obtaining her Master of Science in economics in 1965, she became a research fellow at the economic faculty at that university. During this period Kroes was involved in the women's organisation within the VVD. In this period she also was member of the board of heavy transporting company "ZwaTra", the company of her father.

Local and national politics

Neelie Kroes was elected member of the Rotterdam city council for the VVD since 1970.

In 1971 she was elected to the House of Representatives, forcing her to stop her fellowship. In parliament, she became spokesperson for education. She remained a member of parliament until 1977, when she became State Secretary for Transport, Public Works and Water Management in the First Van Agt Cabinet, responsible for Postal and Telephone Services and Transport. In 1981 she briefly returned to the House of Representatives, while her party, VVD, was in the opposition. In 1982 she returned to office in the First and Second Lubbers Cabinets, now as the Minister of Transport, Public Works and Water Management, a post that she held until 1989. As a minister she was responsible for the privatisation of the Post and Telephone Services, as well as the commissioning of the Betuwe Railway.

Kroes refused to become Minister of Defence in 1988.

After politics

After her time as minister Kroes became a member of the Rotterdam Chamber of Commerce, furthermore she served as a board member for Ballast Nedam (shipping), ABP-PGGM Capital Holdings N.V. (a joint subsidiary of the pension funds ABP and PGGM), NIB (an investment bank), McDonald's Netherlands, Nedlloyd, and Nederlandse Spoorwegen (the privatized Dutch railroad company).

In 1991 she became chairperson of Nyenrode University, a private business school. During this period Kroes also was a member of the Advisory Board of the Prof.Mr. B.M. Teldersstichting, the scientific bureau of VVD.

Kroes has held and still holds many side offices, mainly in cultural and social organisations. She is chairperson of Poets of all Nations, the Delta Psychiatric Hospital and of the board of the Rembrandt House Museum. Also, she is was a member of several boards of commissioners, for instance at Nedlloyd (a shipping company) and Lucent Technologies (an information and communication technologies company).

European Commission

In 2004 Neelie Kroes was appointed the European Commissioner for Competition. Her nomination was heavily criticised because of her ties to big business and alleged involvement in shady arms deals. Kroes has tried to uphold her integrity; whenever she has to deal with issues concerning competition in branches of industry in which she used to be active as a board member, Commissioner McCreevy takes over her responsibilities. As of January 2006 this has happened in five cases.

As chairperson of Nijenrode University, Kroes awarded an honorary doctorate to Microsoft founder Bill Gates in 1996. As a European Commissioner for Competition one of her first tasks in 2004 was to oversee the sanctions against Microsoft by the European Commission, known as the European Union Microsoft competition case. This case resulted in the requirement to release documents to aid commercial interoperability and included a €497 million fine for Microsoft.

Kroes attended conferences organized by the Bilderberg Group in 2005 and 2006[1].

Neelie Kroes made the Forbes' The World's 100 Most Powerful Women list multiple times: as number 47 in 2008[2], 59 in 2007[3], 38 in 2006[4] and number 44 in 2005[5]. She is sometimes called "Nickel Neelie" or "Steely Neelie." She apparently earned her nickname because she's tough in the same vein as the U.K. "Iron Lady" Margaret Thatcher when dealing with competition issues[6].

In 2009 she was transferred to another European Commissioner post, namely ICT and Telecom. She was also appointed as one of the vice-presidents of the European Committee.

Open standards/ Open Source

Kroes has stated she believes open standards, and open source are preferable to anything proprietary:[7]

The Commission must do its part.....It must not rely on one vendor, it must not accept closed standards, and it must refuse to become locked into a particular technology – jeopardizing maintenance of full control over the information in its possession

Miscellaneous information


External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Michel van Hulten
State Secretary for Transport, Public Works and Water Management
Succeeded by
Jaap van der Doef
Preceded by
Henk Zeevalking
Minister of Transport, Public Works and Water Management
Succeeded by
Hanja Maij-Weggen
Preceded by
Mario Monti
Commissioner for Competition
Preceded by
Frits Bolkestein
Dutch European Commissioner


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