BRUSSELS Feb 15 A three-nation call for the
European Union to tighten foreign investment rules is worth
considering, the European Commission said on Wednesday, amid
worries about European technologies ending up in foreign hands.
Germany, France and Italy have sent the Commission a joint
letter that urges the EU executive to re-examine the rules to
allow them to block or impose strict conditions on deals
involving public security and public order.
The letter, seen by Reuters, said the EU executive could
contribute its expertise.
"Ideas like the ones set out in the letter by Germany,
France and Italy are worth discussing," Commission spokesman
Daniel Rosario told a daily briefing.
He said the Commission shared their concerns on the limited
access EU companies have to many foreign procurement contracts
in contrast to the bloc's open market for such deals.
EU governments have to tackle the issue, he said, adding any
measure must comply with the bloc's rules and international
Germany has been making protectionist noises since a spate
of Chinese takeovers of German technology companies, among them
Chinese technology home appliance maker Midea buying
robot-maker and national champion Kuka which
eventually secured EU approval after a preliminary review.
Another high profile deal involving Fujian Grand Chip
Investment Fund's bid for German chipmaker Aixtron
was scuppered by a U.S. and German veto on security grounds.
Chinese investors racked up deals worth more than $10
billion in Germany last year, about 40 times as much as in 2015,
according to Thomson Reuters data.
A French economy ministry source said this joint initiative
has been made possible by a change in Germany's position on the
matter, as the need for a level playing field for foreign
investments in the EU has been long sought by France.
"Germany's position has changed a lot since a raft of
Chinese takeovers of German high-tech companies. They have
realised they did not have any tools to protect their interests
in this situation," the source told Reuters.
(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Additional reporting by Yann Le
Guernigou in Paris; Editing by Tom Heneghan)