French ministers criticized the European Commission on Thursday for appointing a US professor to the top job of overseeing US Big Tech companies.
French Minister Catherine Colonna he said “surprised” by the choice of Fiona Scott Morton as an economist, “which should be reconsidered by the Commission.”
Digital minister Jean-Noël Barrot he said The committee must also consider the hiring, which raises “questions of legitimacy” at a time when the EU is implementing rules on digital use.
Other Commission officials already he asked The nomination was made earlier this week without much discussion and without much discussion about Scott Morton’s consulting work for Big Tech companies. Pressure is now mounting on EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager’s appointment.
France’s Secretary for Europe Laurence Boone quickly contacted his government colleagues, to say spoke to Vestager about his appointment of Scott Morton while “Europe has more economists.”
Boone said that he, Colonna and Barrot are “immediately negotiating with the Commission so that the appointment is consistent with what we want in Europe.”
Scott Morton will be the first non-European to take part in the tough role, which advises the Commissioner on a number of competition cases, including anti-trust probes, big business, government subsidies and the Digital Markets Act which will end the powerful tech giants. He should start on September 1.
Commission spokeswoman Arianna Podestà said on Wednesday that the Commission opened the door to non-EU countries to “many people who can afford it” and only received “a few inquiries.”
Scott Morton was “an excellent choice based on his qualifications and experience in recruiting,” Podestà said.
Podestà said the agency “researched carefully whether he has interests such as interfering with his rights or any other conflict.” The measures to deal with actual or potential conflicts will enable him to avoid participating in “any activity in which he has worked or known in the past.”