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The Commission is right about Alstom-Siemens

Allowing Alstom and Siemens train businesses to merge would have pushed the prices up.

Criticizing “Brussels” and the Commission is a national sport in France – and one in which the extreme usually thrive.

But when Margrethe Vestager announced that the merger between the Alstom and Siemens train businesses will not happen because of competition issues, the reaction was unanimous from both left and right. The strongest reaction came from Macron’s government. “It’s an economic mistake” lashed out Bruno Le Maire, Minister of the Economy. The EU need champions, rather than strict competition rules, everyone from Marine Le Pen to Jean-Luc Mélenchon argued.

Amidst the noise, it was hard to even hear what the Commission had to say about refusing the merger after an in-depth investigation. The new entity would have led to higher prices for transport companies and consumers. It’s as simple as that.

Getting from Lyon to Paris with the TGV already costs a tenth of the monthly minimum wage. In this regard, trying to answer consumers’ needs seems a reasonable position for the Commission to take.

French politicians do not accept the EU when it does not support France

So why do all French politicians criticize the decision? The answer is simple. It’s not that they really want higher prices for trains. They just do not accept what the EU says when it does not help France’s interests or a French company. And this is not a very pro-European stance.

They could at least recognize, as Les Republicains underline in an article published by L’Opinion, that the Commission has played by the rules – and that the rules need to be changed if we want a different industrial policy.

But accusing Brussels of destroying our industry is way too easy, and way too late.

Back in 2015, the energy part of Alstom was sold in a big hurruy, in just a few weeks, to General Electric. The steam turbines that run nuclear plants are now engineered by Americans – and it’s because Alstom was badly managed and needed the cash. The EU was not responsible for this. So let’s stop putting the blame on Brussels.

2 Comments on "The Commission is right about Alstom-Siemens"

  1. On saturday morning at a conference with Nathalie Loiseau she very precisely said “Je préfère une commission qui applique les textes plutôt que de s’asseoir dessus. Mais je m’interroge sur les textes” @NathalieLoiseau

  2. Interesting and possibly true, but no supporting evidence is provided and -here also- information on the EU decision is still missing. Let’s hope that the decision is better supported than the summary on “higher prices”, and let’s hope that the commission also evaluates the EU industry long term future including the EU employment.
    Debatting those points is really needed for the commission to get more support or at least understanding from the euomean citizens.

    Let’s also acknowledge that prices on Lyon-Paris TGV is mostly irrelevant on the matter as no one can reasonably argue that such high prices are substantially due to Alstom

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