Italy, France and Germany have asked the European Commission to reinforce existing regulations that allow EU states to block foreign acquisitions of European companies, two Italian dailies reported on Tuesday. The request cited the ‘golden powers’ to bar or set conditions for would-be buyers “that operate with rules that do not follow the market and that do not respect rules of reciprocity for acquisitions,” Il Sole 24 Ore and La Stampa reported, citing a leaked letter. European Union leaders agreed in June to consider screening investments by state-owned Chinese firms, and France, Germany and Italy have backed the idea of allowing the EU to block Chinese investments.
The letter was sent to the Commission on July 28 and follows a similar one in February. Although it mentions no countries or firms by name, it appears to have been motivated by recent takeovers by Beijing in Europe. The powers would be reinforced for all target companies viewed as strategic and in cases of takeovers financed by state funds or agencies, says the ten-page document cited by the newspapers.
“It is not a form of protectionism but rather giving a chance of monitoring operations that are incompatible with European rules,” Italian Industry Minister Carlo Calenda was quoted as saying in La Stampa.
The three countries recommended that under the new regulations, which should not replace national rules, member states should notify the Commission every six months of all corporate investments from outside the bloc, except those in the defence sector.