Germany to shield health companies from non-EU investors
BERLIN, Germany – Germany on Wednesday, May 20, moved to shield health companies from being snapped up by investors from outside the European Union (EU), after the coronavirus pandemic exposed problems with the supplies of medical products and protective gear.
Under the new regulation, German companies developing or manufacturing key medical products would have to notify the authorities if a company outside the EU seeks a stake of more than 10%, giving the government the last word over the transaction.
Affected companies include those developing or manufacturing vaccines, medication, personal protective gear including face masks or medical devices in the handling of highly infectious diseases – including respiratory devices.
Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said the virus crisis has "showed how important medical know-how and our own production capacity in Germany and Europe can be in crisis situations."
"At the same time, the amendment makes an important contribution to the long-term maintenance of a functioning healthcare system in Germany."
Governments around the world have been scrambling to secure stocks of face masks, surgical gowns, or respiratory gear amid the pandemic, with cases of richer countries outbidding others to get hold of the precious items.
Even if many pharmaceutical or medical device companies are European, much of the production has over the years been outsourced to countries like China.
A Berlin official had also accused the US of diverting a delivery of Chinese-made face masks bound for Germany. – Rappler.com
Amid the uproar, Chancellor Angela Merkel said early April one lesson learnt from the pandemic was that Europe must develop "self-sufficiency" in producing masks.
"Regardless of the fact that this market is presently installed in Asia... we need a certain self-sufficiency, or at least a pillar of our own manufacturing" in Germany or elsewhere in the European Union, she warned.
© Agence France-Presse