France to expand law to stop foreign investors ‘pillaging French talent’

France plans to expand a law protecting its "strategic" industries from foreign takeovers by adding technologies such as artificial intelligence to the list, economy minister Bruno Le Maire said on Monday.

France to expand law to stop foreign investors 'pillaging French talent'

“Make no mistake, France is an open country and we want to make France attractive” to foreign investors, Le Maire said at a press conference.

However, “openness does not mean pillaging of our technologies, our know how, our talents.”

In 2014 France passed the so-called Montebourg law setting strict oversight of foreign bids for companies in key industries such as energy and transportation

Le Maire said France would now set out a “new investment doctrine” to ensure more clarity over investments by foreign groups.

It will also now consider digital sectors including data stockage and artificial intelligence as strategic sectors subject to strict oversight if there are foreign shareholders.

France will also ask the European Commission, along with Germany, Italy and Spain, to set out rules on foreign investments in Europe, citing a need to “defend national interests”.

The move dovetails with a decision by Germany's cabinet last year to tighten scrutiny over takeovers of companies in strategic industries by buyers outside the EU, reacting to Europe-wide disquiet over Chinese takeovers.

Le Maire, who accompanied President Emmanuel Macron during his visit to China earlier this month, called for “reciprocity” with France's trading partners and the respect of “clear rules”.


France to roll out ID cards app

Technology is being rolled out to allow people to carry their French ID cards in an app form - and could be rolled out to other cards, including driving licences and cartes de séjour residency cards.

France to roll out ID cards app

Holders of French carte d’identité (ID cards) will soon be able to carry certified digital versions of them on their smartphone or other electronic devices, a decree published in the Journal Officiel has confirmed.

An official app is being developed for holders of the newer credit card-format ID cards that have information stored on a chip. A provisional test version of the app is expected at the end of May.

Users will be able to use the ID card app, when it becomes available, for a range of services “from checking in at the airport to renting a car”, according to Thierry Breton, EU Commissioner for the Internal Market.

All French citizens have an ID card, which can be used for proving identity in a range of circumstances and for travel within the EU and Schengen zone – the new app will be in addition to the plastic card that holders already have.

Under the plans, after downloading the app, card holders will need merely to hold the card close to their phone to transfer the required information. According to officials, the holder then can decide what information is passed on – such as proof of age, or home address – according to the situation.

The government has not given any examples of situations in which the app would need to be used, but has set out the main principles and the ambition of the plan: to allow everyone to identify themselves and connect to certain public and private organisations, in particular those linked to the France Connect portal.

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Cards will continue to be issued for the foreseeable future – this is merely an extension of the existing system.

Only French citizens have ID cards, but if successful the app is expected to be rolled out to include other cards, such as driving licences, cartes de séjour residency cards or even visas. A digital wallet is being developed at the European level – Member States have until September to agree what it could contain.

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