Prague, Czech Republic – Czech politician Věra Jourová, who has been serving as the European Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality as a part of the Juncker Commission since October 2014, has been named as one of the 100 most influential people in 2019 by TIME magazine.
In her profile, Jourová is described by her fellow Commissioner Margrethe Vestager as “the leading voice calling for regulation of big tech companies.” Born in the Moravian town of Třebíč, Věra Jourová is behind the new proposed legislation regarding EU clampdown on bitcoin platforms and cryptocurrencies.
“Thanks to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which Jourová helped to pass and implement, Europeans have rigorous new privacy rights,” writes Vestager. “She continues to fight to make data protection an everyday reality, in defiance of intense pushback. Jourová approaches this difficult task with a passion that comes from a fundamental belief: that her mission is to protect Europeans.”
According to an ALDE party statement, Jourová’s interest for the European law “was sparked by a personal experience of injustice.” In 2006, Jourova indeed spent more than a month in a Czech jail on false corruption charges after being accused of accepting a bribe from Ladislav Péťa, mayor of Budišov, South Moravia, for securing EU subsidies for the reconstruction of the Budišov castle. She has since then been fully exonerated but admits that the ordeal “brought divorce and anguish to her family”.
This experience arguably marked a turning point in her career. She started working in international consultancy in EU funding, got a low degree in Prague, and finally came back to the forefront of Czech politics when she joined Andrej Babis’ ANO movement and was appointed deputy chairwoman ahead of the 2013 elections.
A highly popular and respected political figure, something quite rare in the Czech Republic, she was eventually named Minister for Regional Development in January 2014 after ANO came out second of the general elections. In October of that same year, however, she became EU Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality in the Juncker Commission and moved to Brussels, where she quickly imposed her own style and work ethics, becoming one of the most influential female leaders in Europe.
Every year since 1999, TIME magazine recognizes the 100 most influential people in the world in an annual list gathering artists, leaders, scientists, activists and entrepreneurs its editors see as having changed the world over the last year, for better or worse. In addition to Jourová, this year’s list includes athletes like Serena Williams, politicians like Venezuela‘s opposition leader Juan Guaidó, Sweden’s young climate activist Greta Thunberg, and the K-pop group, BTS.
This year also marks the first list under the magazine’s new owners, Marc and Lynne Benioff. The TIME 100 gala honouring those who made the list will take place on April 23 in New York City.