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French Lobby Pushes Paris As Alternative To London In Event of Brexit

parisA French lobby group has proposed Paris as an alternative to London, stating that the city could be a financial hub for Europe in the event of Britain voting to leave European Union (EU) in the upcoming referendum.

In a statement, Gerard Mestrallet, head of the Paris marketplace lobby said,

The referendum has encouraged major international companies, particularly in London and New York, to consider re-balancing their businesses towards the euro zone. For this reason, we as a group are ready to promote the competitiveness and appeal of the Paris financial marketplace.

Key European financial centers such as Luxembourg, Frankfurt, Dublin and Paris will all be aiming to attract a share of the London’s vast financial industry, if Britain exits the EU.

The Paris initiative has been put together by officials from the Paris City Hall, financial professionals as well as conservative leaders and comes as the latest opinion poll in Britain reveals an unexpected 10-point lead for the Vote Leave camp. It is one of the biggest attempts undertaken by the city to position itself as an alternative to London.

But France will need to overhaul its business climate in order to become a viable option according to a few members of the lobby. Valerie Pecresse, the conservative head of the wider Paris region said that rather than considering finance as an enemy as expressed by the President of France, it was necessary to look at unemployment as the enemy.

France has mostly not been viewed as business-friendly and appears to have a reputation that it is not in favour of bankers. President Francois Hollande who came into power on a traditional left-wing anti-finance plank decided to levy a tax of 75 percent on millionaires which caused a significant dent to France’s reputation in the financial community.

Although the government has since adopted pro-business policies, Paris is still not seen as an attractive destination for bankers. Many opt to move to London as the city is seen to have a friendlier atmosphere.

The Paris Europlace financial lobby has suggested a number of initiatives to make Paris more attractive. It has suggested more tax incentives like allowing tax relief for expatriates and upgrades of infrastructure within Paris such as connecting Charles de Gaulle airport with the city centre via an express train link and the renovation of the Gare du Nord train station. However observers say such pro-market measures are unlikely to occur a year before the presidential elections in France, and many French business leaders are not in favour of Britain leaving the EU as they fear a disruption in France.

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