António Costa has warned against misusing new security procedures for screening Chinese investment, which can make the continent become more protectionist.
Portugal’s prime minister, António Costa, has warned in an interview with the Financial Times against misusing new security procedures for screening Chinese investments, claiming it could make the continent more protectionist.
“It is one thing to use screening to protect strategic sectors, it is another to use it to open the door to protectionism,” Costa told the British financial daily in an interview published today.
Costa was commenting on the approval in mid-February in the European Parliament of new regulations for screening non-EU investment, which was approved in a plenary session in Strasburg with 500 votes in favour, 49 against and 56 abstentions.
While he agreed with the need to scrutinise all third-country investments in sectors such as security and defence, he said Portugal shared the concerns of other western countries over potential risks arising from the involvement of Chinese telecoms group Huawei in future 5G networks.
“We are listening, of course. But it is very important not to stop the modernisation of Europe’s digital infrastructure,” he told the Financial Times.
He added that Portugal’s “experience with Chinese investment has been very positive” and that the “Chinese have shown complete respect for our legal framework and the rules of the market.”
China has invested billions of euros in Portugal since the financial crisis, with China Three Gorges owning 23% of power utility Energias de Portugal and launching a €9 billion bid for the rest of the capital. Fidelidade, the country’s largest insurer, and Luz Saude, the largest private hospital group, are also controlled by Chinese companies.