A French government minister has created a row by saying that a temporary production increase by Renault was due to the transfer of jobs from overseas.
The EU Competition Commissioner expressed surprise at the French Industry Minister Luc Chatel’s comments that Renault was moving production of a vehicle currently made outside France – specifically the older cheaper Clio model assembled in Slovenia. President Nicolas Sarkozy had to calm things by explaining Renault was actually creating extra jobs in France to meet additional demand: Speaking at the EU summit Sarkozy said: “I saw the Slovenian Prime Minister, I said to him, he will not lose a single job. But as there is demand, there’s an increase in production, and Renault has chosen to create 400 jobs in France. Honestly, I’m the president of the Republic of France, I am delighted. No jobs being lost by our Slovenian friends, and jobs being restored at the French plant at Flins, that’s exactly what I hoped for.” This comes against a background of French carmakers pledging to safeguard production sites in France in exchange for six billion euros in low-interest loans financing by the state. The European Commission approved that despite accusations that it comes close to protectionism.