Aid, yes, but not for free. This Monday, the Minister of the Economy, Bruno Le Maire, reiterated his wish to see the car manufacturers relocate part of their production in France. He also said that this return could become a condition for receiving public support in the face of the economic crisis.
On BFM Business, the head of Bercy first decided for a continuation of the ecological transition in the sector, and wanted to defend the competitiveness of the national industry, adding that it had to be strengthened. He then estimated that “the French automotive industry has outsourced too much“:”she must be able to relocate certain productions“, he added.
This orientation could be put forward in the context of the automobile recovery plan:if we say to the manufacturers ‘we are ready to help you, we are ready to improve for example the conversion premiums, we are ready to look at what can improve your competitiveness on French production sites’, the counterpart, this must to be: what relocations are you considering?Explained Bruno Le Maire.
More concretely, in exchange for aid, in particular for deploying the “electric battery sector”, the ministry could ask manufacturers to commit to saying which “vehicle categories or manufacturing categories“They could relocate, for”build a stronger auto industry»In France.
An orientation already known
It is not the first time that the topic of relocation has come up in the executive discourse. In March, Emmanuel Macron had estimated that the coronavirus would modify the economic model in depth, by emphasizing its “faults“:”the coming weeks and months will require breaking decisions along these lines. I will assume themHe said. For his part, Bruno Le Maire had considered, at the end of February, that “draw all the consequences“Of the coronavirus, a “game changer in globalization “ : the epidemic, he added, revealed in broad daylight “the imperative need to relocate a certain number of activities and to be more independent on a certain number of production chains“
State aid has so far been subject to conditions on several occasions, such as the reduction of dividends paid to shareholders, environmental efforts for Air France or the ban on having its headquarters in a tax haven. The French automobile industry may therefore also have to comply with certain specific conditions in order to benefit from the support of the public authorities.
For the sector, the situation is delicate to say the least: in April, PSA (Peugeot, Citroën, DS, Opel) saw its registrations of new passenger cars collapse (-84.3%), as did the Renault group ( -83.8%), with Dacia and Alpine, according to figures from the Committee of French Automobile Manufacturers (CCFA). The organization expects the market to drop by 20% over the year, on the condition of a substantial recovery plan. After the financial crisis of 2008, France, long the second automobile producer in Europe, fell to fifth place, victim of foreign competition but also of the relocation abroad of French productions. Two of the flagship models of national production, the Peugeot 208 and Renault Clio city cars, are no longer produced in France. And the French trade balance for automotive products has been in deficit since 2008.