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European Commission: former Big Tech lobbyist relinquishes post

Under political pressure, Fiona Scott Morton no longer vying for chief competition economist position.

Digital Sovereignty - July 21, 2023

On July 19, 2023, US national Fiona Scott Morton relinquished her nomination as “chief competition economist” with the European Commission. Selected on July 11, 2023, by Margrethe Vestager, European Commissioner for Competition, the American consultant was supposed to take office on September 1, 2023. Among other things, she would have been in charge of regulating Big Tech.

In the past, Fiona Scott Morton worked as a consultant for several law firms, one of which defends Big Tech interests in Brussels. In this capacity, she provided her services to Amazon, Apple and Microsoft.

During a tough session in European Parliament, several MEPs demanded the Commission reconsider the appointment. The European executive first confirmed the choice, on July 14, 2023, drawing further harsh criticism. The MEDEF (Movement of French Enterprises) showed outrage at the obvious risks of such a conflict of interests.

On July 18, 2023, Emmanuel Macron stepped up to the plate to express his “doubts” about the appointment. “Is there no major European researcher capable of doing this job? If this is the conclusion we are drawing, we must invest massively in research,” stated the French president.

The criticism ended up weakening Fiona Scott Morton. “Given the controversy surrounding the choice of a non-European figure and how important it is for the Directorate General for Competition to have the European Union’s full support, I felt the best decision was to withdraw,” she explains in a letter to the Commission.

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