According to a report from Bloomberg, the French government is calling for changes to the EU’s antitrust laws. “I’m realistic on what the commission’s decision will be on Alstom-Siemens,” French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said in a speech in Paris on Thursday, January 31. “I draw one conclusion from this: the EU competition rules must be changed.”
Officials from member-country antitrust regulators met on Thursday to vote on the deal, a key step toward a final Commission veto as soon as February 6. The EU’s top antitrust official, Johannes Laitenberger, declined to address political pressure surrounding the tie-up, telling reporters in Brussels, “We do our job and our job is to provide the decision makers with facts and with evidence.”
According to Bloomberg, blocking of the deal on concerns it would harm competition in Europe would be a blow to Le Maire, who has repeatedly criticized the EU’s reluctance to back the creation of a leading Franco-German train-equipment company. He’s now seeking to make antitrust laws a central topic in EU parliament elections in May.