Tuesday 14 July 2020

Protect key industries against foreign takeovers, MPs urge ministers

The oil industry is considered to be essential. Photo: Depositphotos.com

The four coalition parties and the PvdA have joined forces to call on the government to speed up the introduction of legislation protecting key industries against foreign takeovers and investments, the Financieele Dagblad reported at the weekend.

Strategic sectors such as healthcare, technology, food and infrastructure, which may be weakened by the coronavirus crisis, could be potentially taken over by US companies or Chinese state companies, the MPs fear.

They have urged the government to ramp up plans for broad national investment monitor which would look at takeover and investment plans from outside the EU and assess them for the likely impact on national security, public order and public health.

Vital sectors

Draft legislation for checks on sectors considered to be of ‘vital’ importance –  the oil and chemicals sectors and transport – is due at the end of this year. However, the cross-party group of MPs say this should be extended to include the health service, post, farming and tech companies such as Philips and ASML.

‘It is incomprehensible that hospitals are not considered to be a vital sector,’ CDA MP Joba van den Berg told the FD.

MPs are due to debate the project with junior economic affairs minister Mona de Keijzer on Tuesday.

The government is already introducing legislation which would require telecom sector takeovers to be assessed, and there are already similar tests for takeovers in the financial sector, electricity and gas supplies.

As an ultimate sanction, ministers would be able to stop takeovers which could be detrimental to the public interest.

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