Thursday, July 25, 2024

EU FDI screening database would speed up national reviews, official says

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A cross-border database of EU foreign direct investment reviews would help smaller member states process cases more quickly, the head of the European Commission’s investment screening unit has said.

Damien Levie, who heads up the foreign direct investment screening unit within the Directorate-General for Trade, said today that his agency’s proposal to set up a secure database of foreign investment cases assessed by the agency and national screening authorities would facilitate smaller countries’ work.

“I have heard a lot of positive feedback from member states, particularly the smaller member states, that don’t have the database of the bigger ones that have been screening for 10-15 years,” he noted.

Levie said the database could improve transparency by making smaller member states alert to investors that have previously been reviewed by authorities in countries with more mature screening regimes.

Sharing information through the database would “help the smaller authorities to do their work”, as authorities that only see 10-15 cases per year “really struggle” to reach a decision due to their lack of historical information on foreign investments, he noted.

The database proposal is part of a push by the commission to improve the bloc’s FDI screening regime. Unveiled last January, the reform aims to harmonise differences between national mechanisms to ensure a level field between countries and reduce foreign investors’ compliance costs.

The commission plans to power the database with information gleaned from cases dating back to October 2020, when the current EU screening regime for foreign direct investment started to apply in full. Member states would also contribute information. 

Since that date, the agency and member states have reviewed more than 1,200 transactions.

The commission’s legislative proposal must be adopted by the European Parliament and the Council of the EU.

Levie was speaking at the C5 5th Annual European Forum on Global FDI Reviews in Brussels. The event ended today.

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