Entrepreneurs look back positively on industrial mission to France

Flemish minister-president Jan Jambon has received positive feedback from the entrepreneurs who took part in Flanders' first industrial mission to France. "They got to know a different France," Jambon said on Thursday.

The mission to Lyon, Paris and Lille revolved around "the industry of the future", with a focus on innovation and R&D. A total of 41 Flemish companies and agencies had the opportunity to learn from French sectors such as textiles, chemicals, technology and food, and to put themselves in the spotlight. This was the first trip of its kind.

The delegation visited the research centre of food giant Danone, which has two plants in Flanders that are "among the most productive in Europe". They also visited CEA-Leti, the French counterpart of Leuven-based imec, one of the world's leading R&D centres for nanoelectronics.

Jambon also met the French secretary of state for Digitalisation, Marina Ferrari. According to Jambon, she was impressed by the digitalisation of the Flemish government.

'France will not replace Germany'

Although France has experienced an industrial revival in the last decade, Jambon does not believe it will take over Germany's leading position in Europe. "Germany remains our main trading partner. But (...) we must also embrace France in order to increase our exports," he said.

Jambon also addressed Europe's ailing industry. The problem needs to be tackled on several levels, he believes. Flanders should adjust its licensing policy and pay more attention to companies poaching Flemish talent. At federal level, Belgium needs to work on reducing wage and energy costs, while Europe should focus on sustainability.

"Germany remains our main trading partner. But (...) we must also embrace France in order to increase our exports"

He is also critical of the new European investment rules, which have led to a subsidy war in Europe. "It's a temporary measure that lasts until 2025, but (...) the sooner it ends, the better. After all, Macron's pockets are deeper than mine."

Belgium has put the issue on the agenda as part of its EU presidency, although Jambon says it is unlikely there will be enough time to change the rules before the end of the presidency in June.



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Flemish minister president on first industry mission to France
Flemish minister-president Jan Jambon will travel to France from Tuesday to Thursday for a first-ever industry mission.

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