Germany has become the first European Union country to tighten its rules on foreign corporate takeovers, following a series of Chinese deals giving access to Western technology and expertise.
The new regulations will allow the German government to block takeovers if there is a risk of critical technology being lost abroad. They will take effect shortly with no need for parliamentary approval in a bid to protect critical infrastructure, including power grids and hospitals.
"We remain one of the most open economies in the world, but we also need to take fair competitive conditions into consideration," Economy Minister Brigitte Zypries said in a statement on Wednesday.
"We owe that to our companies. They often compete with countries whose economies are not as open as ours," she added.
The move reflects pressure across Europe to limit takeovers by Chinese state-backed groups of prized European assets.
The purchase last year of German robotics maker Kuka
State-owned ChemChina`s $43 billion purchase of Swiss pesticides and seeds group Syngenta, Beijing`s biggest overseas acquisition to date, has increased pressure in Europe to curb foreign takeovers in strategically important sectors.
At his first EU summit in June, French President Emmanuel Macron teamed up with Italy and Germany to call for a European mechanism preventing unwanted takeovers.
To introduce more scrutiny in deal-making, the 28 EU leaders called on the Commission to analyse foreign investments in sectors such as energy, banking and technology, where China seeks Europe`s technological know-how.
A spokeswoman at the Commission said President Jean-Claude Juncker had set up a dedicated Commissioners` Group on Trade and Harnessing Globalisation to elaborate on possible actions for the President`s State of the Union speech in September.
"We take note of the newly published German decree," she said, adding the Commission was aware of the concerns related to foreign investment in strategic sectors. EQUAL TERMS
Reciprocal access has emerged as a key issue alarming European executives and politicians, who have complained about a lack of similar openings in China.
"State-owned Chinese firms will continue to look for M