by Navid Linnemann

Soon only big players in the economy?

In German and European economic policy, there is more and more a rethink. At any rate, this could be assumed by looking at Chancellor Angela Merkel's recent remarks or the "national industrial strategy 2030" by Federal Minister of Economics Altmaier. But what exactly is it when there is more interference from the state and warn economic experts against protectionism?

Bye bye free market economy

The problem, which, among others, the French President Emanuel Macron repeatedly addresses, is that European corporations have increasingly difficulty in keeping up with their US or Chinese competition. Germany and France, therefore, want to get more involved in the economy, even though this has been rejected for decades, especially in Germany. The motto was earlier: set guidelines and then let the market decide. Since the financial crisis, however, there is more and more a rethinking, but not all European neighbors are far from being involved. Not to mention the European Commission. This had recently prevented a planned merger between the train branches of Alstom (France) and Siemens (Germany) to a major European group. For antitrust reasons.

Two strategies stand out

But such big players are just one of the two strategies with which the German government wants to protect the European (and not least German) market. The other strategy that Macron is calling for these days again, goes in the direction of protectionism so feared by market liberals. Macron wrote in a featured article in numerous European newspapers that European companies should be favored on domestic markets on the one hand, and penalized if they undermine common standards and values ​​on the other. China and the USA would do the same.

Where the journey is going is still unclear

It is now well known that it is France, in particular, who is pushing forward with economic policy ideas, while Germany is acting rather hesitantly. It will be interesting at the EU summit in Brussels on 20 and 21 March, when both countries want to present a common plan. In particular, the emergence of major European corporations should be the goal of the two countries. It remains unclear, however, to what extent the other EU countries can be convinced.

Translated from the German original by klimeck consulting.

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