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EU Seeks Chief Economist: EU Citizens Only

 |  March 5, 2024

European Union antitrust regulators are on the hunt for a chief economist to fortify their competition and merger cases, restricting the job opening exclusively to Europeans. This move comes a year after the controversial selection of an American candidate sparked a backlash from France.

Margrethe Vestager, the EU antitrust chief, initially nominated Fiona Scott Morton, who served as the chief economist at the U.S. Department of Justice during the Obama administration. However, Scott Morton withdrew her candidacy following criticism from French President Emmanuel Macron and several EU lawmakers. The objections primarily revolved around potential conflicts of interest, given Scott Morton’s previous consultancy work with Big Tech firms. Some critics also raised concerns about European sovereignty in opposing the appointment of a non-European candidate.

The recently advertised vacancy for the chief economist position, published in the EU Official Journal on Tuesday, explicitly requires candidates to hold citizenship in an EU country. The successful applicant will be tasked with leading a team of approximately 29 professionals, aiding EU competition enforcers in assessing the economic ramifications of mergers, antitrust cases, tech regulations, and foreign subsidies.

The role has remained unfilled since August 1 of the previous year, following the retirement of Pierre Regibeau, the former holder of the position. The search for a new chief economist underscores the EU’s commitment to strengthening its antitrust efforts amid ongoing challenges and controversies within the European regulatory landscape.

Source: Reuters