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Alstom train at the the Frankfurt-Hoechst station. Photo: Arne Dedert/AFP via Getty Images

A tension has surfaced in Europe between a fear of China effectively buying up whole industries and local companies becoming too large: Public officials are uncertain which dynamic is more pernicious.

Driving the news: In a decision tomorrow, the European Commission is expected to veto the railroad merger of Germany's giant Siemens and France's Alstom.

  • The merger's advocates say the blockbuster combination is needed to meet the threat of China's state-owned CRCC rail gargantuan.
  • But critics say that CRCC shows no sign of operating anytime soon in Europe and the Siemens-Alstom combination will be so big that it will be able to force up prices almost at will.
  • In this case, the latter fear appears to have prevailed.

"The merger decision has broader political significance because it can either vindicate or try to stop the more statist interests in the economy that have been brewing for many years," says Jacob Kirkegaard, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

The bottom line: There has been a profound shift in European sentiment about big and growing private companies, which until recently have been championed by the U.K. and Germany against more state-led impulses of France, Kirkegaard tells Axios.

  • Now, Brexit and a political shift in Germany have led to new scrutiny of big companies.

Go deeper

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
1 min ago - Politics & Policy

America is anxious, angry and heavily armed

Data: FBI; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Firearms background checks in the U.S. hit a record high in 2020.

The big picture: This past year took our collective arsenal to new heights, with millions of Americans buying guns for the first time. That trend coincides with a moment of peak political and social tension.

Mike Allen, author of AM
1 hour ago - Economy & Business

America on borrowed time

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Economic recovery will not be linear as the world continues to grapple with the uncertainty of the pandemic.

Why it matters: Despite being propped up by an extraordinary amount of fiscal stimulus and support from central banks, the state of the global economy remains fragile.

Scoop: Gina Haspel threatened to resign over plan to install Kash Patel as CIA deputy

CIA Director Gina Haspel. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

CIA Director Gina Haspel threatened to resign in early December after President Trump cooked up a hasty plan to install loyalist Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as her deputy, according to three senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Why it matters: The revelation stunned national security officials and almost blew up the leadership of the world's most powerful spy agency. Only a series of coincidences — and last minute interventions from Vice President Mike Pence and White House counsel Pat Cipollone — stopped it.