The US candidate for the position of the EU chief economist will not be taking up the role due to the political controversy. This decision came just one day after French President Emmanuel Macron criticized the appointment on the grounds of her nationality.
In a letter addressed to the EU’s executive Commission, Fiona Scott Morton, a Yale economics professor, stated that she had decided to withdraw from the position. Considering it to be the best course of action. The announcement was made public early on Wednesday.
The appointment of an American candidate to such a high-level position faced criticism from various quarters. But Macron’s remarks had a significant impact. The French President questioned the move, emphasising the need for the ES to enhance its strategic independence. He expressed dissatisfaction with the plan to hire an American expert as EU chief competition economist. Suggesting that there must be qualified European researchers within the bloc capable of fulfilling the role.
Appointment Reversal Reflects Political Influence in Key EU Positions
Macron’s comments were made during an EU summit, where he posed the question of whether there were no highly qualified researchers among the 27 member states who could provide advisory services to the European Commission. The French leader acknowledged that he had no personal objections to Scott Morton herself. She boasts an impressive academic background with multiple qualifications from elite institutions. However, he demanded clarification from the Commission and questioned whether the appointment of a non-EU citizen to such a senior position complied with EU statutes.
The EU’s executive commission had previously announced Scott Morton’s appointment as the chief competition economist. Within the department responsible for ensuring fair and equal competition among companies within the single market. To the benefit of consumers, businesses, and the European economy as a whole.
Following Scott Morton’s withdrawal, EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, who played a role in the decision to appoint an American candidate, expressed regret and praised Scott Morton’s skills in advocating for strong competition enforcement.
The controversy surrounding the appointment highlights the importance of political considerations and the desire for strategic independence within the EU. While a US candidate had been chosen for the role, the subsequent decision reversal demonstrates the influence of political criticism in shaping key appointments within the EU.