French economy minister Mr Bruno Le Maire has warned the European Commission (EC) that it would be making an “economic and political mistake” if it rejects the Siemens-Alstom merger.
“If the EC was to make an unfavourable decision regarding this merger, it would be for the wrong reasons,” Le Mair said in an interview with French radio station Europe 1 on January 6. “It would not just be an economic mistake but a political mistake, because it would weaken the whole European industry in the face of China.”
“European competition law is obsolete. It was created in the 20th century but today it faces the creation of 21st century industrial giants, and it does not allow Europe to create its own industrial champions.”
Le Maire says he sees no reason why the EC should oppose the merger and warns that blocking the deal “would send a signal to a conquering China that Europe divides and disarms itself.”
The EC says it will decide by February 18 whether a remedy package submitted by Siemens and Alstom last October adequately addresses its concerns over the potential impact of the merger on the rail equipment market, particularly in the high-speed rolling stock business.
Last month competition authorities from Belgium, Britain, the Netherlands and Spain voiced their concerns over the merger, warning in a joint letter to the commission that the combination could have a detrimental impact on the rail equipment markets in their respective countries.