Macron to meet Musk amid bid for Tesla to open new factory in France

The pair will also discuss artificial intelligence and the regulation of social media

President Macron wants to convince Elon Musk the best location for the factory is France
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Emmanuel Macron is set to meet US business magnate Elon Musk on Friday (June 16) to “talk cars” and discuss the latter opening a new factory in France.

The president announced the meeting at the VivaTech show in Paris on Wednesday (June 14), saying he would look to promote France’s technical expertise to the South Africa-born American billionaire.

“We're going to talk about artificial intelligence where he's involved, social networks, regulatory frameworks," said Mr Macron.

“I'm also going to talk to him about automobiles, batteries… to praise the attractiveness of France and Europe [in the sector],” he added.

Despite the president’s attempt to charm Mr Musk, France has recently come to loggerheads with the mogul due to his ownership of the social network Twitter, with a minister saying the platform could be “banned” in Europe if it does not comply with EU regulations.

France catching up with factories

France’s president has met Mr Musk at least twice in recent months and is getting together with him once more as he seeks to prove France’s competitiveness.

Details on the potential factory – which would produce parts or batteries for Tesla electric cars – remain thin, but France would surely see it as an economic boost, providing hundreds if not thousands of jobs.

Competition is fierce, however, with other European countries like Spain flaunting themselves as another potential destination for the factory. There is already one Tesla factory in Germany, alongside two others in the US and China.

France has been attempting to prove its worth as an innovation hub for the green automobile industry, as well as entice producers to build factories in the country.

In the north of the country, four ‘gigafactory’ projects have either been recently opened (such as the one inaugurated by Peugeot owner Stellantis) or are under construction (such as those from Mercedes-Benz and TotalEnergies).

“It will be great to have a Tesla factory in France. There has been a lot of effort and energy to make sure this is possible and this can happen,” said France’s Minister Delegate for Digital Affairs Jean-Noël Barrot.

France has invested in an "entire sector of electric batteries,” he added, which he believes makes the country the prime candidate for the factory.

Read also: How does Emmanuel Macron want to ‘reindustrialise’ France?

Read also: France set to open its first electric car battery factory

Twitter controversy

It was only last month, however, that Mr Barrot was criticising Mr Musk over his running of social media giant Twitter.

He is leading a bill that will increase regulation on social media sites including Twitter – and said sites will be “banned, in the event of a repeat offence,” if they do not comply with new EU legislation.

For his part, President Macron pleaded for a “cooperative approach in this sector”.

He called for “social networks that are more respectful of our democratic life, that remove violence and better protect our children”.

Mr Musk will be in Paris to speak at the VivaTech trade fair, which is currently being held in Paris, and is one of Europe’s largest tech-focused trade events.

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