Appointment of American expert: Vestager to be heard in European Parliament

European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager will be heard in the European Parliament on Tuesday over the controversial appointment of American Fiona Scott Morton to a key post for regulation of tech giants.

This appointment as the new Chief Economist at the Directorate General of Competition has been regarded as scandalous by MEPs who are demanding an explanation.

Elected officials, mainly in France, cited his prior assignments as head of economic analysis at the US Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division between 2011 and 2012, or as a consultant to major tech conglomerates such as Amazon, Apple and Microsoft. Is.

They denounce the potential conflict of interest and the risk of Washington interfering in EU decisions.

The European Commission on Friday addressed the French government to end the inadmissibility, which it claims, of canceling the recruitment of this professor of economics at the prestigious Yale University.

Ms Vestager’s hearing, which is due to take place on Tuesday afternoon, will be open to all MEPs and should be broadcast live on Parliament’s website.

“We are waiting for clear answers to specific questions about this unprecedented choice,” MEP Stéphanie Yon-Courtin (Renew, centrist and liberal) told AFP at the initiative of the hearing.

“How could it be that a candidate who was a gaffe lobbyist was not automatically excluded from such a high position within the management that would regulate these gaffes? How could the commission not have imagined that this would create a conflict of interest Could it be another scam? Was he innocent or guilty?” asks MEP Geoffroy Didier (EPP, right).

The competition commissioners “appreciate” this opportunity for dialogue, “It is a good opportunity to be able to defend this decision taken by the College of Commissioners”, an official of the European executive told AFP under the cover of anonymity. told. “We saw mainly French reactions,” he said.

– “Cancel this decision” –

In the European Parliament, the leaders of the EPP, S&D (Social Democrats), ReNew and the Greens groups wrote to Ms Vestager on Friday asking her to “rescind this decision”.

“At a time when our institutions are under intense scrutiny from foreign interference, we do not understand why non-European candidates should be considered for such a strategic and high-level position,” the ministers said. German Manfred Weber, Spaniard Eratex García Pérez, Frenchman Stéphane Sejourn and Belgian Philippe Lamberts.

But the latter has changed his mind and has ultimately endorsed the nomination after being able to exchange views with Ms. Scott Morton.

He declined to comment when asked by AFP.

The powerful Directorate General for Competition is responsible for ensuring the fair functioning of competition in the European Union (EU) and in particular for investigating abuse of dominant position by digital giants, which has resulted in record fines imposed in past years.

Mrs Scott Morton’s appointment comes at a time when the EU must introduce ambitious new legislation to regulate the sector. It fueled criticism against Ms. Vestager and Ms. von der Leyen, who are considered too anti-Atlantic.

However, the Commission makes relative the responsibilities that will be assumed by Ms Scott Morton, ensuring that this is not a decision-making position, but only an advisory function to Ms Vestager.

Brussels also denies any risk of conflict of interest. It was clarified that the Chief Economist would not be involved in files on which she had worked or had knowledge of in her previous employment.

Ms Scott Morton received the endorsement of forty renowned economists on Monday including Frenchman Philippe Eghion and Olivier Blanchard.

“We Europeans are very fortunate to have attracted someone of his caliber,” they said in a joint forum. He believed that he had “worked tirelessly to convince US legislators to modernize regulation of large technology companies”.

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