European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker will finally reveal more details on long-awaited screening measures for Chinese takeovers in sensitive industries when he speaks to the European Parliament on Wednesday.
The moves come amid a surge in Chinese investment in high-tech manufacturing, infrastructure and energy sectors, and concerns that EU protections lag behind other major economies, such as the US — not to mention the heavy restrictions China itself places on investment. Only 13 out of the EU’s 28 member states have formal systems to monitor the national security implications of takeovers.
Proposals that may be included in the framework include legislation that would allow capitals to block deals if the Chinese buyer is bankrolled by subsidies, or if it is making the acquisition based on Beijing’s political goals. Matthias Machnig, Germany’s secretary of state for the economy advocated such a rule, citing the Chinese takeover of German robotics maker Kuka, Politico reported:
“Look at Kuka and other recent cases in Germany. For cases like that, we want to have the right and legal base for deeper investment probes and want to be able to reject an investment, for example, if it’s not market-driven but state-driven,” Machnig said last week, shortly before Germany was due to submit its own draft regulation to Brussels.
While France and Italy have joined Germany in its push for more vetting, the initiative is not without controversy within the EU. The Netherlands, Nordic countries and Greece are wary such rules would become a barrier to valuable investment, according to the Financial Times.
But China has forced the EU’s hand, Alicia Garcia-Herrero, a senior fellow at the Bruegal think-tank told the FT. “You could say that the commission is being pushed to react, not to have a more protectionist approach generally, but to have one to China… But rightly so — China is not open to us, it is increasingly closed.”