Macron and Merkel defy Brussels with push for industrial champions

Paris and Berlin double down on demands that the EU change its competition rules.

Macron and Merkel defy Brussels with push for industrial champions

France and Germany on Monday made a rare top-level political push for the creation of European industrial champions as part of the coronavirus recovery, putting themselves on a collision course with the European Commission’s antitrust police.

Paris and Berlin are smarting after Brussels blocked a rail merger between Siemens and Alstom in 2019. To France and Germany, that potential tie-up epitomized the sort of European giant that could stand up to Chinese industry, while Brussels warned such a dominant company would be a bad deal for Europe’s consumers and smaller supply companies.

Rather than surrendering to Brussels, Paris and Berlin are now doubling down on demands that the EU change its competition rules.

The European Commission has to adjust its industrial strategy to recover from the coronavirus and “in particular modernize European competition policy by accelerating the adaptation of state aid and competition rules,” a Franco-German statement said.

“We will also think very specifically — and I think after this crisis we will do this even more specifically — about how to create European champions,” said German Chancellor Angela Merkel at a joint virtual press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron, adding that EU competition rules have been applied in a way that was “very focused” on competition in Europe.

“We have seen that others, whether the United States of America, South Korea, Japan or China, have relied very heavily on global champions, and I believe that this approach is the necessary answer. We must not be afraid to have global champions, but we must work towards them,” she said.

Macron added: “If we want technological sovereignty, we’ll have to have to adapt our competition law, which has perhaps been too much focused solely on the consumer and not enough on defending European champions.”

Elisa Braun and Hans von der Burchard contributed reporting

Source : Politico EU More   

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Fewer Germans prioritize relationship with US over China: report

Neither Germans nor Americans consider each other their most important foreign policy partners.

Fewer Germans prioritize relationship with US over China: report

A shrinking share of Germans believe that the United States is a more important partner for their country than China, according to a report published Monday.

The report, based on a series of surveys conducted by the Pew Research Center and Germany’s Körber-Stiftung in April, found that just 37 percent of Germans consider it more important for their country to have a close relationship with the U.S. than with China, a fall of 13 percentage points since 2019.

Meanwhile, 36 percent of German respondents said they prioritized a close relationship with China, a rise of 12 points since last year.

The American view has changed little over the past year, with 43 percent of American respondents saying the relationship with Germany was more important than that with China, a rise of 2 percentage points since 2019. An almost equal share, 44 percent, said they prioritized China over Germany.

Neither Germans nor Americans consider each other their most important foreign policy partners, according to the report.

Some 44 percent of Americans had a negative view of globalization compared with 30 percent of Germans.

Only 6 percent of American respondents named Germany as their top partner, with the United Kingdom coming in first at 26 percent and China second at 18 percent. In Germany, France topped the list with 44 percent while the U.S. came in second at 10 percent, followed by China at 6 percent.

The pollsters also found that Germans have a more favorable view of globalization than Americans, with 59 percent of Germans seeing it as beneficial for their country compared to 47 percent of Americans.

Some 44 percent of Americans had a negative view of globalization compared with 30 percent of Germans, although those living in the former East German states are almost twice as likely to reject globalization than their fellow citizens in the West.

The surveys polled about a thousand respondents in each country.

Source : Politico EU More   

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