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Arnaud Montebourg France Government Holland Industry Job losses Law ArcelorMittal

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France promises law to save fledgling industries

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Reuters/Charles Platiau

France’s parliament will vote on a law in the next three months that would offer up a solution for the country’s flailing manufacturing sector. If passed, the law will ban profitable firms from closing down a plant before seeking another company to take over. The French government hopes the move will help deal with the country’s rising unemployment rates.
 


France’s Industrial Renewal Minister Arnaud Montebourg told French television on Friday that the forced handover was not expropriation, nor a case of nationalisation.

“You want to close, someone presents himself [to take over the site], the judicial
system fixes a price and you will be paid the market price,” he said.

The proposed law falls under President François Hollande’s election promises, in an attempt to get a handle on the country’s high unemployment levels.

France’s unemployment reached three million for the first time in ten years, according to data published on Wednesday.

The country’s industries have been smacked hard in the past few months, with closures of several sites causing panic about redundancies.

ArcelorMittal steel plant, in the eastern Lorraine region, recently made headlines with its announcement of a plan to shut down two blast furnaces at its Florange site, which would result in 500 job losses.

President François Hollande met with ArcelorMittal head Lakshmi Mittal on Thursday to discuss the future of the plant. The French government allegedly offered to buy the furnaces for a symbolic euro, in order to keep them in operation.

Montebourg said on Friday that the promised law would be “perfectly applicable” to the situation at Florange, but that there were still no guarantees on whether or not the furnaces would close.

ArcelorMittal has temporarily closed several of its sites in France, Belgium and Spain. It is the leading supplier of steel products in the automotive, construction, packaging and household appliances markets.