DIGITAL SME warns the European Commission on the potential appointment of former Big Tech advisor as Chief Competition Economist

  • Reputable news sources have reported that the European Commission will appoint Fiona Scott Morton as Chief Competition Economist

  • DIGITAL SME joins five other civil society organisations to call against this appointment

  • Prof. Scott Morton has significant conflicts of interest and represents views which are at odds with many competition regulators

DIGITAL SME has joined a group of civil society organisations to send a letter to the European Commission and express our concerns about the news reports on the appointment of Fiona Scott Morton as Chief Competition Economist at the Directorate-General for Competition.

DIGITAL SME believes Prof. Scott Morton has potential conflicts of interest, as she has consulted companies such as Apple, Amazon and Microsoft. This would mean that Prof. Scott Morton would have to exempt herself from any cases that involve the above-mentioned companies and that the Commission would have to work without a Chief Economist at its disposal.

Furthermore, Prof. Scott Morton has been criticised for publishing opinions, without disclosing her ties to Big Tech companies. For example, Prof. Scott Morton published an article in The Washington Post, with the title ‘Why Breaking Up Big Tech Probably Won’t Work’, where she did not disclose her consultancy work. This raises concerns about transparency and a lack of objectivity if she is to be appointed as Chief Competition Economist.

DIGITAL SME also highlights that Prof. Scott Morton has been an advocate of the ‘Consumer Welfare standard’ doctrine which prioritises lowering prices for consumers and ignores the structural effects of concentrated market power for small businesses. This is at odds with the Commission’s new approach to create new tools and approaches and tackle concentrated economic power, as this is reflected in the Digital Markets Act.

All in all, we urge the European Commission to not appoint Prof. Scott Morton as Chief Competition Economist. Her appointment brings significant conflicts of interests at the heart of the EU’s competition efforts, while her views could lead to disagreements between regulatory authorities and uncertainty for stakeholders and small businesses.

You can read the full letter here.

DIGITAL SME co-signed the letter, along with the Balanced Economy Project, the Open Markets Institute (Europe), Corporate Europe Observatory, LobbyControl, and the Irish Council for Civil Liberties

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