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20th Jan 2019

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EU industry chief voices need to block Chinese takeovers

  • EU industry commissioner Antonio Tajani (Photo: EPP)

Europe should establish a new authority with powers to block foreign takeovers of strategic European businesses, EU industry commissioner Antonio Tajani has argued.

The authority is particularly necessary as Chinese companies increasingly look to grow their overseas investments, the Italian politician said in an interview with German business daily Handelsblatt on Monday (27 December).

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"Chinese companies have the means to buy more and more European enterprises with key technologies in important sectors," remarked Mr Tajani.

"It is a question of investments but behind that there is also a strategic policy, to which Europe should respond politically," he said.

As a result, Europe should establish "an authority tasked with examining foreign investments in Europe" using the the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US as a model.

Under the proposal, the European authority would determine "if the acquisition (of a company) with European know-how by a private or public foreign company represented a danger or not."

A number of European and American firms have been frustrated in recent years by the speed at which their Chinese competitors have acquired new technologies developed outside the Middle Kingdom.

For its part, China has gradually sought to remove its own restrictions on foreign investment but considerable limitations still apply.

Reacting to the EU suggestion for a new authority, German economy minister Rainer Bruederle warned against overly quick decisions.

"Of course one can have an evaluation procedure taking into account security and public order concerns. But we shouldn't take hasty actions," Mr Bruederle told the Handelsblatt paper on Tuesday.

"Europe profits from the openness of its markets and offers attractive conditions for foreign investors," he added.

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