EU's Vestager warns China against unfair competition

EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager has urged China to offer "the same conditions" to European companies as Chinese firms enjoy in the EU

EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager on Tuesday warned China against unfair competition, urging it to offer "the same conditions" to European companies as those enjoyed by Chinese firms in the EU.

In an interview with AFP, Vestager stressed the importance of "fair competition not only with competition enforcement but also with... reciprocity."

"It is a problem that a Chinese company can do business in Europe but there are quite strict limitations as to how a European company can do business in China," she added.

"It is important" that Europeans can have "access to screening of foreign direct investments... to consider public order, security issues, cyber security," she said.

This could be "a good example of how competition law enforcement... and regulation will supplement or complement each other to have a more level playing field," she added.

Vestager was referring to a mooted European framework for assessing foreign investment wanted by France and Germany in order to address worries about acquisitions by foreign companies, mainly Chinese, in their strategic sectors.

Paris and Berlin are concerned that foreign groups are seeking to pilfer key technologies by buying their companies and have long called for European legislation to filter certain operations.

The idea faced significant opposition from pro-export Sweden, Finland and the Czech Republic, all highly suspicious of meddling in the open market or of scaring off investors.

Pressed by French President Emmanuel Macron, the EU agreed to a limited proposal on Tuesday that encourages European cooperation on the matter, which must be approved by European Parliament early next year.