22nd Oct 2020

EU industry chief claims support for foreign investment review board

  • China is a key target of Mr Tajani's plans (Photo: EPP)

EU industry commissioner Antonio Tajani has said a number of member states support his idea to set up a special review board to scrutinise foreign investment in European companies.

The Italian politician has also written to European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso in order to kickstart the debate, although an internal commission discussion has yet to be scheduled. "The president will of course look at the letter and the commission will decide how to move forward," spokesman Mark Gray told this website on Wednesday (16 February).

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Mr Tajani insists he has support for the idea, despite earlier grumblings on the matter.

"We need this debate," he told German business daily Handelsblatt in an interview on Wednesday. "We have received signals in this sense from France, Italy, Poland, Portugal and Spain."

Europe's industry chief first raised the issue last December, saying foreign takeovers of European businesses were resulting in a considerable loss of European 'know-how'.

"Chinese companies have the means to buy more and more European enterprises with key technologies in important sectors," the Italian commissioner remarked at the time.

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

At the time German economy minister Rainer Bruederle from the pro-business Free Democratic Party quickly poured cold water on the idea, warning Europe against taking overly "hasty actions".

Despite this, Germany is also interested in the of the idea, Mr Tajani told the Handelsblatt newspaper, describing Mr Bruederle's remark's as a personal opinion.

While he stressed that foreign investment was welcome in Europe, Mr Tajani said investors "should commit themselves clearly and not just have in mind the theft of know-how or technology."

The US Committee on Foreign Investment is one model the commissioner is looking at, although others are also being examined, an official indicated.

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