The two countries however reaffirmed “the strength of their ties in terms of economic cooperation, particularly in the industrial sector” in a joint press release.
The agreement to sell Chantiers de l’Atlantique shares, signed by the French State, Fincantieri and Naval Group on February 2, 2018, will end on January 31, 2021, after having been extended five times.
The parties have decided not to extend this agreement again. Indeed, the tourism sector is currently facing an unprecedented level of economic uncertainty, due to the Covid-19 crisis, which does not allow the operation to continue.
This operation, which was supported by France and Italy, was initiated more than three years ago, but its conclusion was subject to the approval of the European Commission.
The European Commission opened an in-depth investigation into the project on October 30, 2019, and expressed doubts about the impact of the transaction in terms of competition. In the context of the health crisis and the lack of visibility on the recovery of the shipbuilding market, the European Commission has not completed the procedure.
In order to allow the two companies to focus on their crisis exit strategy and on new projects, France and Italy have drawn conclusions from the lack of a decision by the European Commission and from the economic and health context. The French state remains the main shareholder in Chantiers de l’Atlantique and will support the company as long as the crisis lasts.
France and Italy remain fully committed to deepening their cooperation in the maritime and shipbuilding sector, in line with the conclusions of the 34th Franco-Italian Summit in 2017. The start of construction on May 18, 2020 at Chantiers de l’Atlantique, of the first of four “BRF” logistic support ships for the French Navy’s FLOTLOG program, part of which has been entrusted to Fincantieri shipyard of Castellammare di Stabia, testifies the continued cooperation between the two countries and the two companies.
In addition, the Naviris joint venture between Naval Group and Fincantieri has been fully operational since January 2020 and benefits from the support of France and Italy. Naviris is actively prospecting for export, and has launched joint R&T projects. The joint venture is also developing projects for the French and Italian navies, and within the framework of larger agreements, such as the European Patrol Corvette project.
“More generally, France and Italy continue to support economic and industrial cooperation between their companies and their two countries,” the release adds.