Germany, France push to create industrial ‘European champions’

BERLIN (AFP) – Germany and France agreed yesterday on a strategy to create European industrial ‘champions’ and to seek changes in European Union (EU) competition rules that now prevent blockbuster mergers of homegrown groups.

The push for a common industrial initiative came after the EU’s veto of an Alstom-Siemens rail merger that has revived debate over competition regulations that critics say are obsolete in the face of growing rivalry from Chinese giants.

“It’s an important day because after months of work, we have agreed on the definition of an industrial strategy for Europe which will be proposed to our European partners,” said French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire in Berlin after talks with his German counterpart Peter Altmaier.

Under the strategy, the two EU giants will push for greater investments in innovations, seek reforms in EU competition rules, and set up mechanisms to better protect homegrown technology.