BRUSSELS – The European Union has decided to formulate and enact a new set of controls so as to be able to better scrutinize direct investments coming into the bloc from third countries on the grounds of security or public order, the Council of the EU said in a statement on Tuesday.
The council added this was the first time that the EU had decided to furnish itself with such a comprehensive set of rules, while its major trading partners had already similar controls in place.
“The new rules on the screening of investments will ensure that openness goes hand in hand with sensible protection of our strategic assets,” said Stefan-Radu Oprea, Minister for Business Environment, Trade and Entrepreneurship of Romania and President of the Council.
The Council’s statement said that the regulations would establish a solid and stable framework for the screening of foreign direct investments into the EU.
The Council said its internal negotiations on the subject had concluded on Nov. 20.
The framework for the rules should allow for coordinated methods of being able to scrutinize inward investment at a community level.
The objective of all this was to be able to avoid investments from countries, such as China, which could possibly pose a threat to security or public order within the community, one of the most open in the world, the statement said.
Part of the new screening device would include a cooperation mechanism where member states and the Commission would be able to exchange information and raise specific concerns over investments.
Member states will nevertheless retain the ability to review and potentially bar foreign direct investment on security and public order grounds.
The decision to set up and maintain national screening mechanisms will also remain in the hands of individual member states, the statement said.
The Commission will be authorized to issue opinions in cases concerning several member states, or when investments could affect a project or program of interest to the EU as a whole, such as Horizon 2020 or Galileo.
The new regulations are set to be published on March 21, the Council said, adding that they would come into force 20 days later.
“The EU is and will remain one of the world’s most open places to invest in,” Oprea said.