The author is the President of France
In a few days, more than 200 international chief executives will come to Versailles to participate in an event entitled “Choose France”. Many of them will unveil investments in strategic sectors. Since the first of these events in 2018, thousands of jobs and hundreds of factories have been created, with more than 200 new plants established in France in the last two years alone.
We are committed to rebuilding French industry and promoting our economic strength. This will allow us to further strengthen our public services and invest in our future. We are working with unwavering determination at the national level, as a result of which in 2022, according to a survey by EY, we were the most attractive country in Europe for foreign investment for the fourth year in a row.
However, this battle for reindustrialisation must obviously also be fought on a European scale.
Since becoming President of France in 2017, I have consistently argued for the idea of European sovereignty. At first this was seen as wishful thinking, and sometimes considered too French. However, the EU has faced two major crises during the past few years. And, because of the Covid-19 pandemic and the war Russia has decided to impose on Ukraine, we have acknowledged our strategic dependence and decided to take steps to reduce it.
We Europeans reached this definitive consensus Summit in March 2022Also at Versailles. We agreed on the importance of being in control of our own destiny and we paved the way for a more sovereign Europe with tangible decisions on defence, energy and economic security.
We are not naive anymore. Without compromising our openness, we are acting to protect our interests, our freedoms and our values, and to strengthen our European economic and social model.
We now need a comprehensive framework to implement this European consensus on sovereignty. I propose a theory based on five pillars.
The first pillar is the most obvious: competitiveness, further integration and deepening of the EU single market, which is the first condition for creating a European champion in the fields of clean tech and artificial intelligence.
In contrast, industrial policy, the second pillar, has long been taboo. But in the past few months we have refined this old concept and turned it into a powerful lever to meet the challenges of ecological and digital transitions and to match the ambition of our partners and competitors.
The European Chips Act will boost research and development and production of European semiconductors. The Net Zero Industry Act will simplify existing regulations and drive more investment and skills towards green and clean technologies.
In March, the European Commission announced reforms to state aid rules to better support Europe’s strategic industries. This is accompanied by crucial progress on electricity market reform.
The third pillar is the protection of vital European interests and strategic assets. The EU has, for the first time, created an instrument to block foreign acquisitions of strategic European companies. And we have to be bold when it comes to the question of technological decoupling and strengthening export controls.
Next is reciprocity, the fourth pillar. That means our trade agenda must be ambitious and consistent with our broader political objectives. It must therefore be sustainable, fair and balanced and pursue clear European strategic interests.
The final pillar in the framework is multilateralism. Sovereignty does not mean self-sufficiency and the EU can only develop in the context of global development. I have invited the countries of the Global South to come to Paris in June to lay the groundwork for a new international financial framework.
We have to implement this principle without delay. We have to take back control of our supply chains, energy and innovation. We need more factories and less dependency. “Made in Europe” should be our motto. We have no choice, because sovereignty is intertwined with the strength of our democracy.
For decades, the backbone of Europe’s economy was a middle class with well-paid industrial jobs, confident that the next generation would be richer than the last. Next week in Versailles, and in the coming months, we Europeans can prove that our continent, the cradle of the Industrial Revolution, can once again be home to thriving industry and shared progress.