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In this file photo taken in October, 2018, German engineering giant Siemens' sign is seen at a company building in Munich Perlach, southern Germany.CHRISTOF STACHE/AFP/Getty Images

France’s Europe affairs minister said on Sunday the bloc’s competition rules were absurd and needed to be overhauled, citing the difficulties Alstom SA and Siemens AG are facing over their planned rail business merger.

“I’m not criticizing the [European] Commission for applying the rules ... but these rules are absurd and were set up in the 20th century and we’re in 2019,” Nathalie Loiseau told LCI television.

The European Commission is set this week to block the tie-up, a deal that Ms. Loiseau has said is necessary to let them compete against a much bigger Chinese rival.

Ms. Loiseau said Paris was still trying to convince the commission why the merger was needed to be more competitive against large international rail groups.

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