Europe is embroiled in controversy as European lawmakers on Tuesday voiced their concerns on Margrethe Vestager’s decision to hire an American citizen, Fiona Scott Morton, as the chief economist of the European Commission.
The appointment has faced heavy criticism from French officials as Laurence Boone, France’s secretary for Europe, stated on Twitter that she had spoken with Vestager about this nomination, adding that ‘Europe has many talented economists.’
Jean-Noël Barrot, France’s minister delegate in charge of the digital transition and telecommunications, echoed similar sentiments, stating that ‘At a time when Europe is embarking on the most ambitious digital regulation in the world, the recent appointment of the chief economist of the DG [directorates-general] Competition is not without raising legitimate questions.’
Vestager responded to lawmakers’ reservations by affirming that Fiona Scott Morton’s experience in consulting for Big Tech, which has been an issue of contention in the European Union, will prove beneficial in her role as chief economist.
Arguments for Scott Morton’s hiring were bolstered by a spokesperson for the Commission, who highlighted her impressive qualifications, including her ‘distinguished academic background and decades of experience in economic analysis and competition policy.’ Scott Morton holds a bachelor’s degree from Yale College and a Ph. D. in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, along with experience in economic analysis at the antitrust division of the U.S. Department of Justice.
Meanwhile, Vestager defended her decision, stating that “I think it’s a good thing to come with experience, she knows our system inside out.”
The appointment follows the European Commission’s recent investigations into Big Tech and the digital economy. With Fiona Scott Morton set to start the new role in September, the Commission hopes that with her expertise, they will have the resources they need to enforce policies tailored to meet regulations across Europe.