While the UK government is reportedly preparing plans for “Car Crash Brexit” with a no-deal scenario looming less than two weeks before the deadline, the French President has allegedly launched a charm offensive, targeting car firms with British operations, to advertise his country’s more business friendly environment.
French President Emmanuel Macron has thrown a private dinner at his residence, Elysee Palace, where he invited car industry executives and three of the country’s cabinet ministers, as The Guardian reports.
According to the British outlet, the heads of Renault Nissan, Vauxhall and Jaguar Land Rover allegedly attended the high-profile party thrown last week, as its organizers have secured the representation of firms with UK operations via the Paris Motor Show.
Like representatives of many other industries, carmakers have their concerns about Brexit, and a looming no-deal scenario, in particular. While the Vauxhall management predicted “dramatic consequences” for their British plants if the UK had to leave the EU without a deal, chief executive of Jaguar Land Rover CEO Ralf Speth voiced his uncertainty that it can keep the UK operations after Brexit. The uncertainty also prompted the company to freeze investment decisions over electric car manufacturing.
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In this situation, Macron is told to paint a picture of nationalism growing worldwide, while he’s struggling to make his country more business friendly. He reportedly promised the company heads cooperation, aimed to find a compromise on planned CO2 targets. Although the president’s office has refused to confirm that such a meeting took place, business insiders reportedly told The Guardian, the dinner was a part of France’s attempt to boost its profile as a manufacturing site for next-generation electric cars; the industry’s tycoons are now struggling to decide.
The French authorities have already made some steps, securing a better business profile for France amid competition from other European hubs for London’s managers, who fear for the prospects of Europe’s biggest financial center after the UK leaves the EU.
This summer, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe unveiled changes to make the country’s capital a more attractive financial center by the end of the year, including 30% lower taxation of the so-called carried interest (capital income) for asset managers planning to relocate to Paris. However, the official didn’t mention the B-word, as the reason for the financial reform itch, which fell in line with plans, was introduced by Emmanuel Macron earlier this year.
Slammed in France as “the president of the rich,” Macron revealed plans to lower the corporate tax to 25% and abolish a wealth tax on financial assets. Additionally, France has imposed a flat 30% tax on carried interest and scrapped the top tax bracket.
PM Theresa May and the EU leaders are expected to either reach a final agreement or declare a No-Deal Brexit after negotiations in Brussels on October 16. Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, said on Saturday that the likelihood of a No Deal Brexit had risen in the last few days, while noting that the matter could be finished within the next month.
At the same time, The Sun reported on October 7 that May had ordered officials to increase crisis preparations for a possible No Deal Brexit, as the British Cabinet is said to be “in a state of panic” over the failure of the Chequers plan.