Changes to rules sought after EC rejects Siemens/Alstom rail merger

European Competition Commissioner puts Alstom and Siemens merger on Ice. Credit: Shutterstock.

Germany will seek a reform of European Union (EU) competition regulations following the decision by the European Competition Directorate to reject Siemens’ and Alstom’s application to merge their rail businesses.

Reuters reports that German Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy Peter Altmaier said today that Europe should consider amending competition regulations to allow cross-border mergers that would “create European champions which can compete with rivals from China and the United States.”

The German government will hold the EU presidency in the second half of 2020 and it will push for changes in unison with its French counterparts.

The two companies issued a statement saying that they regret the European Commission’s decision after they had offered remedies that were “extensive in scope” including the concerns raised by the Competition Directorate regarding signalling and very high-speed trains.

Siemens and Alstom believed the merger would have created value for customers, without transgressing competition regulations. “It would have also allowed the creation of a European player having the ability to cope with the growing competition from non-EU companies,” said the companies.

Margrethe Vestager is a Danish politician serving as the European Commissioner for Competition. She rejected the claims made by Altmaier, Siemens and Alstom. “We don’t see the Chinese coming. The Chinese are nowhere, not at all in Europe,” Vestager told a news conference.

The rail deal was also criticized by national competition regulators in Belgium, Germany, Great Britain, the Netherlands and Spain.

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Nick Savvides, Staff Writer

Nick came to FreightWaves in December 2018 from Fairplay, a shipping market publication. He covers the shipping, freight and logistics industry in Europe. Since starting his career as a journalist in 1990, Nick has worked for a number of significant freight publications abroad, including International Freighting Weekly, the online news service for Containerisation International, ICIS, the chemical industry reporting service, as well as Seatrade in Greece. Nick also worked as a freelance journalist writing for Lloyd’s List, The Observer, The Express and The European newspapers among others before joining Seatrade Newsweek in Athens.