On the European Commission's next Chief Competition Economist

big tech
On the EU's next Chief Competition Economist

We, along with a coalition of civil society organisations, have written a joint letter to the European Commission regarding media reports about the likely imminent appointment of Fiona Scott Morton as the next Chief Competition Economist at the EU’s Directorate-General for Competition.

These concerns include potential conflicts of interest, given that she has worked recently for Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Pfizer, and various others; unusual aspects of the appointments process itself; and the fact that her opinions reflect an outdated approach to tackling excessive concentrations of economic power.

Our letter is here.

Our letter is also covered in the Financial Times.  Among other things, the article says of her conflicts of interest:

“A person close to Scott Morton defended her record by saying the consulting work she has done for Big Tech ended two years ago and there may not be conflicts of interest.”

This, however raises further questions.

First, when our letter described conflicts of interest, it mentioned companies other than Big Tech, including Sanofi and Pfizer. (Which non-Big Tech companies is she still working for?)

Second, we referred to her work for Microsoft in the recent Activision merger case, which is dated Dec 5, 2022 – just five months ago.

Update 1: Politico reports on our letter:

The Commission told POLITICO it had received the letter “and will respond in due course,” adding that the hiring process was still ongoing and it could not “comment on candidates or speculation about the outcome.”

Update 2: Her appointment was confirmed in July, and news organisations continued to reference our letter.