Friday, March 24, 2006

French National Champions a Headache for Europe

The Friday edition of WSJ Europe has an interesting coupling of stories on its front page today. First, a great article on the French drive to create national champions, which may not be so good for all of Europe. The article says France has more top-tier companies in key industries than any other country in Europe. But, paraphrasing former EU competition czar Mario Monti, who does that really help? The French citizens? The French economy? Or does it just fill the pockets of the French elite? It certainly doesn't do much for the European project France has been promoting for decades, at least on the surface. Not too long ago President Jacques Chirac told the East Europeans should know when to shut up, underlying the point that the French see the EU as theirs to run. So, I guess, what's good for the French elite, is good for the EU. Or something like that.

And, on the same page, we see that U.S. telecoms equipment company Lucent is in merger talks with French rival Alcatel. Looks like Lucent would get the upper hand. Wonder how well this would fit into the French economic model. I get a feeling this could get quite messy.

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