EU lawmakers back investment screening


European Union lawmakers overwhelmingly backed a far-reaching system on Thursday to coordinate scrutiny of foreign investments, notably from China, to protect strategic technologies and infrastructure in Europe.

Under the plan, developed as Chinese investments surged, the European Commission will investigate foreign investments in critical sectors and give its view on whether they undermine European interests.

China is not named in the proposed legislation, but its backers’ complaints over investments by state-owned enterprises and technology transfers are clear references to Beijing.

The proposal, demanded by France, Germany and the previous government of Italy, initially faced opposition from some EU countries, including Greece, Cyprus, Malta and Portugal.

Some of the opponents have welcomed Chinese investment, such as Greece.

Its largest port, Piraeus, is majority-owned by China’s Cosco Shipping.

However, the mood has partly shifted.

The EU is now looking into Chinese telecoms company Huawei, concerned over its ties to the Chinese government and suspicion that Beijing could use its technology for spying.

Huawei denies the allegations.