I was born 1941 in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, where I also attended school and helped to build my family's transport business.
I studied economics at Erasmus University, before working there for six years as an Assistant Professor.
My political career started on the Rotterdam Municipal Council, and in 1971 I was elected as a Member of the Dutch Parliament for the liberal VVD party. From 1982-1989 I served as Minister for Transport, Public Works and Telecommunication in the Netherlands.
After politics I was appointed President of Nyenrode University from 1991-2000, and served on various company boards, including Lucent Technologies, Volvo, and P&O Nedlloyd.
Since 2004, I have worked for the European Commission, as one of the 27 Commissioners working to maintain a peaceful and prosperous Europe. From 2004 to 2009, I was Competition Commissioner, responsible for ensuring a level playing field for business in Europe, and fair prices and wide choice for consumers.
In 2010, I became Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda for Europe. This portfolio includes the information and communications technology (ICT) and telecommunications sectors. For example: ensuring trust and security for the Internet and new technologies; ensuring competitive communications, such as in the mobile roaming market; building world-class European research and innovation in this sector; and above all getting every European Digital, with access to fast broadband, so we can make the most out of the Internet to support our economy and society.