October 2, 2017 / 11:31 AM / 10 months ago

French finance minister urges EU to change approach on competition issues

PARIS (Reuters) - French finance minister Bruno Le Maire on Monday called upon the European Union to change its approach regarding competition matters, saying its current attitude hindered European companies compared to U.S. or Chinese rivals.

FILE PHOTO - French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire (R) talks to an employee as he visits the Alstom plant in Petite-Foret near Valenciennes, France, September 29, 2017. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

Le Maire, who was speaking at a business conference called “French Fab”, said competition and anti-trust matters could “no longer be the alpha and omega of European industrial policy.”

“Our competitors, it’s China, it’s the United States, it’s the biggest powers on the planet. Europe will be a big industrial power on the world stage once we have the courage to unite, rather than separate ourselves,” said Le Maire.

Last week, Germany’s Siemens (SIEGn.DE) and France’s Alstom (ALSO.PA) announced a merger of their rail businesses in a deal which the companies said would help them compete with China’s state-owned CRRC 601776.SS.

Siemens and Alstom expect their deal to be completed at the end of 2018.

Reporting by Myriam Rivet; Writing by Sudip Kar-Gupta; editing by John Irish

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