Margrethe Vestager, EU Competition Commission’s chief will be facing questions from a college of EU commissioners about her decision to block one of the biggest mergers in the European Union which involves the corporate merger of Germany’s Siemens and France’s Alstom.
The merger of the two industrial heavyweights which manufactures rail parts is supported by the top leaderships of both French and German governments. The companies claim that the merger is necessary for ensuring that the two European corporations stand a chance against heavily state backed Chinese companies. The deal would create a united entity more of a European rail giant. However the deal backed by the governments is being blocked by Vestager and her supporters alleging that the deal would seriously threaten competition in industry biting a significant chunk of national markets and will leave the united entity in an unfairly dominant position resembling a monopoly.
Vestager who has garnered a reputation of crossing fierce adversaries such as US tech giants. Recent casualties of her tax rulings include Apple who was fined with a $15 billion compensation for malpractices by the EU commissioner. She was recently in news for intensifying investigation in the Nike’s Netherlands operations. She has been dubbed as ‘tax lady’ by the US President Donald Trump.
She has expressed at an event in Berlin, that although the EU needs European champions to compete against powerful foreign rivals but at the same time we can’t build them by making compromises with competition policies and letting member states disregard competition rules.
Grumbling voices are being heard from all quarters of French and German governments who are trying to swing political consensus in favor of the merger. Bruno Le Maire, the French Economy minister has warned that blocking the deal would be political mistake, while Prime Minister Edouard Philippe has warned that if the deal is blocked it would sentence European children with a fate to sit in trains built by non-European manufacturers 30 years down the lane.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel also protested by warning the EU that blocking big mergers which may compete against Asian rivals solely to protect competition would be wrong and threaten economic development of European businesses in the long run. Germany’s leading business lobby, BDI has also favored the merger.
At the meeting scheduled at Strasbourg, Vestager may face critics on her fierce opposition to the deal. Although EU historically has been pro-competition, China’s economic might and spreading global empire of Chinese corporations have forced many to rethink on the competition policies of the Union. Vestager, having angered powerful factions in many European governments as well as abroad has said that she may be friendless on European political stage and fears that this may be her last term as the competition commissioner.