EU agrees framework for screening foreign direct investment

The European Parliament, the Council and the Commission have announced political agreement on an EU framework for screening foreign direct investment. The Commission said that while openness to foreign direct investment is enshrined in the EU Treaties, and such investment fuels growth, innovation and employment, there are some cases where foreign investors might seek to acquire strategic assets that allow them to control or influence European enterprises the activities of which are critical for the security and public order in the EU and in its Member States.

The Commission says the framework:

• creates a co-operation mechanism where Member States and the Commission will be able to exchange information and raise specific concerns

• allows the Commission to issue opinions in cases concerning several Member States, or when an investment could affect a project or programme of interest to the whole EU, such as Horizon 2020 or Galileo

• encourages international co-operation on investment screening policies, including sharing experience, best practices and information regarding investment trends

• reaffirms that national security interests are the responsibility of Member States; it will not affect the Member States' ability to maintain their existing review mechanisms, to adopt new ones or to remain without such national mechanisms (currently 14 Member States have such mechanisms in place)

• ensures the Member States keep the last word as to whether a specific operation should be allowed or not in their territory

• takes into account the need to operate under short business-friendly deadlines and strong confidentiality requirements

The European Parliament and Council now have to confirm the agreement and agree the legislative basis of the framework, which will include a Regulation establishing a framework for screening of foreign direct investments into the EU.

In parallel to this proposal, the Commission is completing a detailed analysis of the foreign direct investment flows into the EU and has set up a co-ordination group with Member States to help identify joint strategic concerns and solutions in the area of foreign direct investment.

Source: Press release: Commission welcomes agreement on foreign investment screening framework

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