SHE was born to Lutheran ministers known to be both tough and principled. As a child, she thought it unfair that pupils were not allowed to sell fruit and milk in school and successfully lobbied for change. In her office in Brussels she keeps a statue of a raised middle finger, a gift from a trade union when she was deputy prime minister of Denmark, as a reminder that there will always be critics.
It shouldn’t have come as a surprise that Margrethe Vestager, the European Union’s competition commissioner, took a tough line against Google this week. The size of the fine the tech giant will have to pay for abusing its monopoly in online search, €2.4bn ($2.7bn), sets a record for European antitrust penalties (see chart). Yet more important than the amount is that she provided a rough guide to how the European Commission plans to deal with online firms which not only dominate a market, but essentially are the market.