January 8, 2019 / 7:56 PM / 3 months ago

Italy's Salvini attacks France, Germany over shipbuilding intervention

FILE PHOTO: Italian Deputy Prime Minister and right-wing League party leader Matteo Salvini gestures as he speaks to members of the media during his visit to Yad Vashem World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem December 12, 2018. REUTERS/Ammar Awad/File Photo

ROME (Reuters) - Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini attacked France and Germany on Tuesday over their role in a European Union investigation into a planned merger involving Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri (FCT.MI).

“What has happened is extremely serious, France and Germany behaved wrongly. It throws into doubt all accords,” Salvini, who leads the right-wing League party, said according to comments released by his spokeswoman.

The European Commission said earlier on Tuesday that it would investigate Fincantieri’s planned acquisition of French counterpart Chantiers de l’Atlantique after France and Germany asked it to do so.

It added that, on the basis of information provided by both countries, it had concluded that the transaction could significantly harm competition in shipbuilding, in particular in the global market for cruise ships.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said in a television interview he was “surprised” by the Commission’s decision.

There have been frequent tensions between Italy and France since the Rome government of the League and the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement took office in June last year.

5-Star leader Luigi Di Maio, who is also deputy prime minister, this week gave his party’s backing to the “yellow-vest” protesters that have demonstrated for weeks in French cities against President Emmanuel Macron.

Both Di Maio and Salvini have exchanged barbs with Macron on immigration and other issues, and French European Affairs Minister Nathalie Loiseau said after Di Maio’s latest comments that Italy should not meddle in French affairs.

Reporting by Gavin Jones; Editing by Jan Harvey

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