By Foo Yun Chee

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Commission stood firm on Friday, saying it was not reconsidering EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager’s selection of an American economist for a senior post helping oversee big technologies, despite criticism from French ministers and EU lawmakers.

Fiona Scott Morton, 56, a former chief economist at the US Department of Justice under former President Barack Obama, will take up her three-year term on September 1 when current chief economist Pierre Regibeau retires.

She will be the first non-EU national, the first US national and the first woman to hold the position.

The leaders of the four main political parties in the European Parliament wrote to Vestager on Friday asking him to reconsider his decision, echoing calls from two French ministers a day earlier.

They cited the strategic importance of the publication, potential conflicts of interest due to Scott Morton’s previous work with Big Tech, and his previous antitrust public comments.

Commission spokeswoman Dana Spinant dismissed the criticism.

“The college supported the proposal to appoint this person to the post. The decision has been made. We see no mistake in reconsidering it,” he told a daily news conference.

The leader of the center-right European People’s Party group Manfred Weber, the president of the liberal group Renew Europe Stephane Sejourne, the leader of the socialist group Iratxe García Pérez and the leaders of the green party Philippe Lamberts and Terry Reintke said they were opposed to the new hiring. .

To avoid conflicts of interest, Scott Morton will not work on cases she has previously been involved with, or cases involving companies she has previously worked for as a consultant.

(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Jan Harvey)

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