PARIS: The European Commission would make an "economic error and political mistake" if it were to block the merger of Alstom's and Siemens' rail businesses, said French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, shortly before meeting the EU's competition chief.
Le Maire said the French and German governments were fully behind the merger, as were Alstom Chief Executive Henri Poupart-Lafarge and his Siemens counterpart Joe Kaeser.
"Refusing the merger between Alstom and Siemens would be an economic error and a political mistake," Le Maire told journalists on Monday, ahead of meeting with the EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager in Paris.
"We cannot take an industrial decision for the 21st century with the competition rules from the 20th century," Le Maire added, reiterating a warning to Vestager about rejecting the merger.
People familiar with the matter told Reuters on Friday that Siemens' and Alstom's plan to create a European rail champion to take on a Chinese rival had failed to win over EU antitrust regulators, despite German and French backing.
"We all believe that (the merger) is the best way today to respond to China's rise," added Le Maire.
(Reporting by Leigh Thomas and Myriam Rivet; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta)