Neelie Kroes

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Country: Netherlands
Email: Neelie.Kroes[at]

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Neelie Kroes is the Vice President of the European Commission for the Digital Agenda of Europe. She is responsible for maintaining trust, security, and competitiveness in the Internet, new technologies, and communications markets on a global level. She also leads the development or world-class research and innovation in ICT and strives to bring digital access to broadband across Europe and maximize the use of internet for economic and social development.[1] According to Forbes, she is one of the world's most powerful women.[2]

ICANN Involvement

As VP for the Digital Agenda for Europe, Ms. Kroes provides a strong voice for the Internet community in Europe within ICANN. During the 2010 ICANN 38 meeting in Brussels, Ms. Kroes recognized the success of ICANN’s Multistakeholder Model in internet governance and noted that any technical changes undertaken by ICANN must add value to the Internet and serve the public interest. According to her, all stakeholders play a significant role in preserving the freedom of speech and human rights on the Internet and in combating identity theft, spam, phishing and other cyber crimes. She emphasized that all stakeholders must work together to ensure the internet’s security and resilience. She also said, “the Internet day-to-day functioning works well and I am the first to say "if it isn't broken, don’t fix it!" On the issue of the new gTLD expansion program, Ms. Kroes advised the ICANN Board to take steps carefully and to consider all aspects, not just commercial interests, when carrying out its decisions. According to her, the new gTLD program is a challenge to ICANN’s governance.[3]

In May, 2011, Kroes and Larry Strickling, Assistant Secretary of the U.S Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) met and agreed to continue to support ICANN, however they demanded internet governance reforms to strengthen the transparency and accountability of the organization. Both officials pointed out that the internet governing body needs to address the issues and consider the recommendations of Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) regarding the new gTLD expansion program.[4] Prior to this meeting, Kroes sent a letter to DOC Secretary Gary Locke regarding ICANN's approval of the .xxx sTLD. In her letter, Ms. Kroes pointed out that the ICANN Board did not seek the advice of its own Security & Stability Advisory Committee regarding the possibility that some countries would block the .xxx TLD. According to her, the issue is a major policy concern that needs to be addressed because it affects not only the stability of the global Internet but also freedom of expression and Internet censorship. She believed that ICANN's disregard for advice from its GAC may be "detrimental to the multi-stakeholder, private sector-led model." [5] In response, Strickling informed Kroes that the United States government does not support ICANN's approval of the .xxx TLD, however he explained that over-turning the organizations decision would not provide a long term benefit for the for the United States and the global internet community. Mr. Strickling emphasized that the United States' goal is to preserve the global Internet, promote innovation, economic growth and the free flow of information. He agreed with Neelie Kroes that ICANN acted without the full support of the internet community and noted that he is dedicated to encouraging ICANN to improve its ability to respond to the concerns of all stakeholders and governments around the world. As member of the Accountability and Transparency Review Team (ATRT), Larry Strickling said that he is recommending pertinent improvements to ICANN's transparency and governance.[6]

In June, 2011, Ms. Kroes expressed her disappointment regarding ICANN’s decision to implement the new gTLD program because it failed to address the public policy concerns raised by the European Commission and United States government regarding competition, particularly on the issue of cross-ownership between Registries and Registrars. According to her, the “ICANN Board failed to provide responses on how it intended to address these concerns. ICANN went ahead and adopted its new guidelines.” She also noted that this action represents the “second time in a row that the ICANN Board disregards governmental advice on public policy issues.” The first incident was ICANN’s approval of the .xxx sponsored top level domain name (sTLD) in March, 2011. Neelie Kroes pointed out that, “The lack of an adequate response on the part of the ICANN Board clearly points to some deficiencies in the current functioning of the model. This calls for specific actions in order to remedy the situation.”[7]

Career History

Ms. Kroes worked as Assistant Professor for six years at Erasmus University in Rotterdam, Netherlands. She served as Board Member of ZwaTra, a transportation business owned by her family.[8] She began her political in 1970 after being elected as one of the Councilors of the Rotterdam Municipal Council. In 1971, she was elected as Representative to the Dutch Parliament. She served as Minister for Transport, Public Works and Telecommunication in from 1982-1989. Ms. Kroes also worked in the private sector. From 1991 to 2000, she was appointed president of the Nyenrode University. She also served as Board Member of Lucent Technologies, Volvo, and P&O Nedlloyd. Prior to her current position as Vice President for Digital Agenda for Europe, she was Commissioner for Competition for the European Commission until from 2004 to 2009.[9]

Charity Work

Ms. Kroes served as Member of the Governing Board of the Friends of Nelson Mandela Children's Fund, World Cancer Research Fund-Netherlands, Rembrandt House Foundation, Chairman of the Governing Board of Poets of All Nation and many other charitable institutions. [10]


She received her a degree in Economics from Erasmus University Dutch Economics School of Economics in Rotterdam and she hold an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Hull in United Kingdom.