Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni exerted pressure on the European Commission on Sunday to approve the agreement in which Lufthansa would take a minority stake in the Italian airline ITA, the successor to Alitalia. The responsible Commissioner, Didier Reynders, who has taken over the competition powers from Margrethe Vestager, made this decision recently.
Meloni criticized European authorities on the sidelines of the G20 summit in New Delhi, saying, “Something strange is happening. The same European Commission that has been asking us for years to find a solution to the ITA problem is blocking the solution we have found.” The Italian Prime Minister said she “does not understand this and wants an explanation.”
The Commission responded on Sunday that the agreement had not yet been formally submitted to them. A spokesperson stated, “If a transaction constitutes a concentration and has a European dimension, companies must always notify it to the Commission.”
Lufthansa’s plans to acquire a 41 percent stake in ITA date back to the end of May. Informal discussions have reportedly taken place, aiming for an informal agreement before formally notifying the transaction. Sources within the Italian government confirmed on Sunday that they will attempt to arrange a meeting with Reynders to expedite the process, as reported by the Reuters news agency.
The Commission is said to be particularly concerned about the situation at the airports in Rome and Milan to prevent a monopoly. Currently, Lufthansa brings passengers from the affluent northern regions of Italy to its hub in Munich through flights operated by Air Dolomiti.