ROME (Reuters) – Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni questioned on Sunday why European authorities had not cleared a deal for Germany’s Lufthansa to invest in ITA Airways, the successor to Alitalia.
“Something curious is going on. The same European Commission which asked us for years to find a solution to the ITA problem, then blocks it when we do come up with a solution,” she told reporters in a press conference at the end of the G20 summit.
“So we don’t really understand, and we would like an answer,” she added, saying the issue had been raised with Paolo Gentiloni, an Italian who is European Economy Commissioner.
However, the Commission said the deal had not yet been lodged with it.
“This transaction has not been formally notified to the Commission. If a transaction constitutes a concentration and has an EU dimension, it is always up to the companies to notify it to the Commission,” a Commission spokesperson said on Sunday.
Lufthansa agreed at the end of May to take a 41% stake in ITA.
Since then, Italy has engaged in talks with European Union competition authorities to secure informal backing before going ahead with a formal notification of the transaction.
To speed up negotiations, a Treasury official said on Sunday that Rome would seek a meeting with Didier Reynders, who is in charge of the competition portfolio following outgoing Margrethe Vestager’s announcement that she is officially a candidate for the presidency of the European Investment Bank.
The two companies could not immediately be reached for contact on Sunday.
(Reporting by Giuseppe Fonte, Keith Weir and Philip Blenkinsop; Writing by Keith Weir; Editing by Sharon Singleton)