In an interview to Danish business daily Finans, Maersk’s CEO Soren Skou stated, the strict enforcement of competition rules in the European Union is acting as a barrier to developing global champions who can compete with U.S. and Chinese companies.
“Is it really a good idea that we don’t allow the creation of a European global champion? In doing so, we risk being outperformed by a Chinese company, over which the European Union has no influence,” said Skou.
Incidentally, Skou is a member of The European Round Table for Industry (ERT), a lobby group of 55 CEOs; he also the chairman of large European companies. In December 2019, ERT had urged the EU to develop a new industrial strategy in order to enhance the global competitiveness of European companies.
Skou’s comments come in the wake of Brussels blocking a merger of the rail divisions of Siemens and Alstom in 2019. The merger could have created an European rail champion. The development had prompted France and Germany to call for an overhaul of EU competition policy to better meet global challenges.
At that time, EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager had said, she had blocked the merger to protect competition in the European railway industry. The deal could have created an European champion which could better compete with China’s state-owned CRRC in the European market.
“Competition policy should not be just about protecting consumers. That is super important, but if it does not allow us to build the right European companies that can compete globally, it could become a huge problem for the EU in the long run,” said Skou. “We cannot allow the United States and China to win the global technology race, while we spend our time discussing issues that belong to industries of the last century”.