France urges EC to reconsider choice of top US economist for influential role

fiona scott morton

Pressure is building over the EC’s appointment of American professor and economist Fiona Scott Morton as new chief economist at its Directorate-General for Competition, with the French raising serious objections. 

Yale University economics professor Fiona Scott Morton’s appointment as the new chief competition economist in the European Commission’s (EC) antitrust unit has caused a bit of a stir.  

French feathers have been seriously ruffled, with France’s Digital Minister, Jean-Noël Barrot, and Minister for Europe Catherine Colonna, who called the appointment “astonishing”, both calling for the EC to reconsider the choice.  

Barrot took to social media to question the thinking behind the move “at a time when Europe is embarking on the most ambitious digital regulation in the world”, adding that picking an American for the role “raised legitimate concerns”.  


Scott Morton is a realistic candidate, having served as Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Economics at the US Justice Department’s antitrust division in 2011 and 2012. But it is her link with US tech giants, with whom she has previously worked as a consultant, as well as her nationality, that are the primary black marks against her name.  

“Hiring a US lobbyist for the GAFAM (Google, Amazon, Meta, Apple and Microsoft) when Europe has finally decided to limit their power… is at best clumsy, at worst dangerous,” conservative French Eurodeputy Geoffroy Didier told the Economic Times. 

If her appointment goes ahead, Scott Morton will be the first non-European to hold this position, which deals with competition cases, including antitrust investigations, government subsidies, large mergers and actions relating to the Digital Markets Act, which was created as a check on the tech giants.  


A spokesperson for the EC, Arianna Podestà, said on 12th July, the day after Scott Morton’s name was announced, that Commission had opened the posting up to non-EU citizens in order to be open to “the widest possible pool of candidates” and that, even then, the number of applicants was limited.  

As such, Scott Morton was deemed “the best choice in terms of her qualifications and of her performance in the recruitment process”, said Podestà.  


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