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France, Germany, Italy and Poland Urge Vestager To Form Path For EU Champions

 |  February 6, 2020

France, Germany, Italy and Poland have urged European Commission Vice President Margrethe Vestager to stop dragging her feet on competition law reforms that they insist are needed to forge European champions to rival China and the US.

For more than a year, Paris and Berlin have been pushing for new EU antitrust rules after Vestager blocked a mega merger in the rail sector between France’s Alstom and Germany’s Siemens. They reckon that deal would have created the sort of corporate giant that Europe needs,  an Airbus of the train sector, while Vestager argued that the merger would have harmed European consumers.

After months of resisting the Franco-German onslaught, Vestager unexpectedly announced in December that she would review the rule book, but then declined to map out any timeframe, reported Politico. 

Paris, Berlin, Rome and Warsaw,  four of the EU’s political heavyweights, have now taken the unusually confrontational step of telling Vestager to hurry up and produce her action plan on various competition reforms within weeks. Their letter, dated February 4 and obtained by Politico, comes amid a major European strategic shift toward a centralized industrial policy, and only weeks before the Commission is due to launch its own industrial strategy agenda on March 10.