An American economist is getting a top EU job. And France’s Macron isn’t happy about it
Jul 18, 2023, 12:53 PM
(AP Photo/Francois Walschaerts)
BRUSSELS (AP) — With French President Emmanuel Macron insisting the European Union needs more strategic independence, he seemed decidedly piqued on Tuesday over the EU head office’s plans to hire an American expert as its chief competition economist.
“Is there really no great European researcher with academic qualifications that could do this job?” Macron asked at a summit of EU leaders with their Latin American counterparts.
In a bloc of some 450 million people, “is there no one in the 27 member states that has a researcher good enough to advise the Commission? That is a real question mark,” Macron said.
The EU’s executive Commission announced last week that it had appointed Yale economics professor Fiona Scott Morton as chief competition economist in its department tasked with ensuring that “all companies compete equally and fairly on their merits within the single market, to the benefit of consumers, businesses and the European economy as a whole.”
Macron insisted that he has nothing against Scott Morton herself, an economist with multiple diplomas from elite schools.
But the French leader demanded answers from the commission, and suggested that hiring a non-EU citizen to such a senior job should not be allowed under EU statutes.
Some other politicians and EU lawmakers — mainly French — have also voiced their complaints.
While the Commission stressed Scott Morton’s track record in advising U.S. government agencies, Macron stressed her experience consulting for private companies — which include big tech firms such as Microsoft — and suggested that could pose a conflict of interest in her new job.
Macron called it ‘’extremely worrying” if no one in the EU is qualified for the job, and a sign that “we have a very big problem with all European academic systems” and ‘’must massively invest in academic research in economics.”
Scott Morton is expected to start work Sept. 1.