EU ‘rejects merger by Alstom and Siemens rail operations’
Brussels had raised concerns about competition in Europe in the rail sector.
European Union authorities have decided to reject a merger between the rail activities of France’s Alstom and German firm Siemens, the French finance minister has said.
Bruno Le Maire said on France 2 television that the decision is “an economic mistake”.
The veto on the merger is expected to be formally announced by the EU’s competition commissioner later on Wednesday.
Mr Le Maire said the ruling will block the creation of a European rail giant that could have competed with Chinese giant CRRC.
“It’s going to serve China’s economic and industrial interests,” he said.
EU authorities had raised concerns about competition in Europe in the rail sector.
Mr Le Maire called for a revision of European competition rules, saying the “the pertinent market for analysing competition is the world market and not the European market”.
On Tuesday, German economy minister Peter Altmaier floated the same idea of giving greater weight in competition law to the global market.
The French and German governments defended the merger, but competition authorities in the UK, the Netherlands, Belgium and Spain expressed concerns that the new company would be in a dominant position that would potentially overpower smaller rail manufacturers and increase prices in the market.
Alstom is best-known for France’s TGV and Siemens for Germany’s ICE high-speed trains.