PARIS -- French automakers must bring more production back to France in exchange for government support for the struggling industry, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Monday.
Along with tourism and aerospace, the car industry is one of three industries for which the French government is preparing sector-specific recovery plans to help them back on their feet after the coronavirus crisis.
Le Maire said he would hold meetings this week with representatives of the country's car industry about the recovery plan, which is expected at the end of August or September.
"We are ready to help you, we are ready to improve incentives for new cars, we are ready to look at what can improve your competitivity at French production sites," Le Maire said on BFM Business radio. "In exchange it will be what's your relocation plan? That's how we will build a stronger automobile industry," he said.
The government is already working on a 5 billion-euro ($5.4 billion) package of state-guaranteed loans for Renault, which is 15 percent owned by the state.
Renault had to suspend production at its Sandouville plant in France last week following a court order sought by the CGT union, which considered the site's measures to protect workers against the coronavirus to be insufficient.
Le Maire said the CGT's move, which was criticized by more moderate unions, sent the wrong signal at a time when France was looking to bring back production. "There are certain union leaders who are playing with fire," Le Maire said.
Currently, Renault also has 18 European car plants, six of which are in France. PSA Group builds cars in 18 plants in Europe and Russia, including five in France, according to Automotive News Europe's Assembly Plant Map.
Automotive News Europe contributed to this report