February 3, 2019 / 11:59 AM / 4 months ago

French minister says EU competition rules 'absurd'

FILE PHOTO: French Minister for European Affairs Nathalie Loiseau attends the questions to the government session at the National Assembly in Paris, France, November 15, 2017. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier/File Photo

PARIS (Reuters) - France’s Europe affairs minister said on Sunday the bloc’s competition rules were absurd and needed to be overhauled, citing the difficulties Alstom (ALSO.PA) and Siemens SIEDn.DE are facing over their planned rail business merger.

“I’m not criticizing the (European) Commission for applying the rules ... But these rules are absurd and were set up in the 20th century and we’re in 2019,” Nathalie Loiseau told LCI television.

The European Commission is set this week to block the tie-up, a deal which Loiseau has said is necessary to let them compete against a much bigger Chinese rival.

Loiseau said Paris was still trying to convince the commission why the merger was needed to be more competitive against large international rail groups.

Reporting by John Irish; Editing by Andrew Heavens

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