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Liftoff for French industry

Back in January I wrote about the nationwide consultation ongoing to relaunch French industry. Well, as promised, President Sarkozy presented his plan (or maybe that of his advisors?) on Thursday of last week.

It was all good stuff. There are four overriding objectives :

- increase industrial production by more than 25% between now and 2015

- develop durable long-term perspectives for industrial jobs (no measurable indicators on this one),

- return to a positive commercial balance between now and 2015.

- increase the French share of European industrial output by 2% by 2015 (which I suppose could be achieved either by France improving or the others receding).

To deliver this, there are 23 measures split into five main areas:

- placing industry at the heart of a major project of common interest – this involves setting up a national conference and an ‘industry week’, developing better relationships with the rest of Europe, between industry and higher education.. and between the government and industry,

- developing employment and competencies, through providing incentives to set up in or bring back their activities to France, using experienced workers to help junior ones, and better anticipating industrial requirements in terms of skills,

- reinforcing the regional structures already in place to support industry – part of this includes setting up better regulation of the relationships between larger customers and smaller suppliers,

- reinforcing innovation and competitivity through simplifying regulations (it would be about time) and helping financially companies with promising new products,

- setting up new means for industry to obtain financial support.

Not a lot of surprises, therefore, a major part of the initiatives revolving around the financial difficulties of industry today.

And just in case you were wondering, no mention of Lean in the sections on competitivity. In fact, one could have the impression that the only way French industry is going to become competitive again is if the government gives them lots of money!

Still, there is a whole lot of work to be completed if these are the measures to deliver the 2015 objectives (by the way, the next Presidential election is in 2012). If I was a little cynical (which I probably am), I would finish by saying that these measures are guaranteed to generate new jobs… if only in the local government agencies who are going to have the responsibility of coordinating all of this.

The full report (in French) can be accessed here.

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