BCN-39, 40 EU lawmakers greenlight screening of Chinese investment

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EU lawmakers greenlight screening of Chinese investment

STRASBOURG, France, Feb 14, 2019 (BSS/AFP) – The European Parliament on
Thursday gave its green light to new powers to screen foreign takeovers in
Europe’s strategic sectors, amid concern about investment by China.

The limited powers aim to protect EU sectors like water, transport,
communications and technologies, including semiconductors, artificial
intelligence and robotics.

Sitting in the French city of Strasbourg, the European Parliament adopted
the draft legislation by 500 votes for, 49 against and 56 abstentions. EU
member states must still approve it.

Under the proposal, EU countries will have to supply, under certain
conditions, information on foreign investment to other member states if
public order or security are concerned.

“Acquiring infrastructure, technologies or strategic interests is becoming
a political objective,” French MEP Franck Proust warned as he steered the
legislation through parliament.

“With this tool Europe, will be able to better shield itself against the
butterfly’s wing effect of investment,” said Proust, a member of the centre-
right European People’s Party, the largest group in the assembly.

The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm which has pushed for such
screening, has raised alarm over China, particularly Chinese telecoms giant
Huawei’s bid to help build 5G mobile networks across the bloc.

“This legislation is of course totally neutral and non discriminatory,” EU
Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said on Wednesday.

“But it is no secret that if you follow the debate in certain countries
right now… there is a question on China,” Malmstrom said.

“There could be other countries as well.”

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But Malmstrom said the final decision will remain with the EU member
countries.

In September 2017, during his annual state of the union speech to the
European Parliament in Strasbourg, the European Commission chief Jean-Claude
Juncker pledged to seek powers to screen foreign takeovers in Europe’s
strategic sector.

The plan fulfils a request by French President Emmanuel Macron, backed by
Germany and Italy, that Brussels draw up a strategy to counter a wave of
takeovers by Chinese companies in Europe.

BSS/AFP/SR/2040 HRS