Brussels has faced calls from the likes of Germany, France and Italy to introduce powers that would allow the bloc to intervene in state-backed acquisitions of some of the continent’s biggest companies.
But EU officials say such measures could set a precedent that would prevent similiar takeovers by state-backed European companies in the future.
There are growing concerns of an imbalance between China and Europe, the world’s two largest markets, with Chinese investors last year spending four times more on takeovers in the EU as member states did in the Far East.
A report by research company Rhodium Group and think tank Mercator Institute for China Studies estimated Chinese investment in the EU was more than £29.5bn in 2016, up 76 per cent.
That’s compared to just £6.5bn worth of EU acquisitions in China in the same period.
Member states, as well as some MEPs, want to adopt a US-style approach to foreign investment, where a committee weighs up a proposed acquisition against domestic and security interests.
It comes after German robot manufacturer Kuka was sold to Chinese firm Midea for £3.8bn in January, despite complaints from German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
But while Brussels officials accepted it was important for EU countries not to be “influenced” by “aggressive acquisitions”, Europe had to remain open to overseas investment.
European Commission vice-president Jyrki Katainen, in charge of EU overseas trade policy, told the Financial Times: “It’s quite difficult to imagine that the commission would say to the owners of a company or the entrepreneur that you are not allowed to seal your company because you are too good.
“If EU companies have the same rights as other countries’ companies to buy companies, then you don’t need to be worried.”