Protectionism alive and well across the EU

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The Independent Online

EU member states are pursuing aggressive trade policies to limit foreign investment, a new report claims.

Fortress Europe, commissioned by CMS Cameron McKenna, Europe's second largest law firm, accuses the countries of pursuing policies that EU law was meant to forbid. Hungary and Poland have already faced European Commission infringement proceedings in the past year and similar action will soon be taken against Portugal and Spain.

Few countries are left out of the firing line. The report, to be published this week, highlights Germany's attempts to tighten its foreign trade act to further limit ownership by companies outside the EU. It argues that out of 17 countries surveyed, 14 operated rules that discriminated against foreign investors.

Despite concerns about the effect of such protectionism, the report suggests that this will continue to be offset by factors such as internet use, which has made it cheaper and easier to trade across borders.