MARIGNANE, France, March 4 (Reuters) – The EU’s competition policy is preventing the creation of strong European companies and needs to be more flexible, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Thursday.

He made his comments as he unveiled new policies aimed at halting the decline in French industry which included a promise for a more active government role in companies where the state is a shareholder.

“I want the conception of European competition to move forward,” he said, saying that the policy should be looked at on a European level and not at the level of an individual country.

“Otherwise how do we create big European groups? Which big group in the world can conquer export markets without first being dominant in its own domestic market?” he asked.

He said Europe had lost the battle for consumer goods contracts and was facing increasing competition on major industrial contracts.