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France to open new international schools amid post-Brexit charm offensive

Three new international schools are set to open over the next five years in and around Paris, to accommodate the children of expats the French government is hoping to attract as it slashes financial and regulatory burdens on the banking sector to capitalise on Brexit.

Lycée International des Pontonniers de Strasbourg, FranceLycée International des Pontonniers de Strasbourg. The French government is planning three more lycées internationals to accommodate expats as it aims to lure foreign business to Paris post-Brexit. Photo: Flickr/Valentin R..

"To investors, we are ready to roll out the blue, white and red carpet for you”

Speaking at the national mint, the Monnaie de Paris, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe laid out France’s ambitions to scoop up international business that is considering pulling out of the UK in light of the country’s impending departure from the EU.

“You can regret this Brexit decision or welcome it, but it’s a fact”

“You can regret this [Brexit] decision or welcome it, but it’s a fact,” he said. “You have to deal with it.”

The opening of the lycées internationals in the Parisian region of Île-de-France was announced alongside a raft of measures to attract foreign businesses that will want to continue operating in the EU post-Brexit.

The measures include lowering the corporate tax rate from 33.3% to 25% by 2022, getting rid of a 0.3% levy on financial transactions, scrapping the €150,000 tax bracket and excluding bonuses from the calculations of redundancy pay for stockbrokers.

The move is in line with newly-elected President Emmanuel Macron‘s efforts to show France is business friendly, in contrast with his predecessor François Hollande, who famously described the financial sector as the “enemy”.

The measures aim to “make our position more competitive and attractive”, Philippe said.

“Companies must find the desire to settle and develop on our soil rather than elsewhere.”

Speaking alongside the prime minister, Paris regional president Valérie Pécresse addressed the banking sector in English.

“To investors, and to those disappointed by Brexit, I want to say that we are ready to roll out the blue, white and red carpet for you,” she said. “Welcome back to Europe.”

“Companies must find the desire to settle and develop on our soil rather than elsewhere”

The new schools were initially proposed in a 10-year emergency strategy published in February that claimed one in three high schools in the region are “outdated”.

The €5bn plan aims to create 20,800 new school places by 2027 by adding 12 new lycées (including the three international schools), building 32 new boarding schools and extending a further 23 existing lycées.

While the bulk of the funding will go towards these renovation and construction plans, 20% will be used to maintain existing schools.

The first of the new international schools to open in Île-de-France will be converted from an existing high school in Paris’s La Defense business district, the Lycée Lucie-Aubrac de Courbevoie.

A second school will open in Saclay, an area south of Paris that has ambitions to become a “global innovation cluster”, by 2021, followed by a third in Vincennes in 2022.

Daniel Filatre, rector of the Academy of Versailles, and Agnès Evren, Île-de-France vice-president in charge of education and culture, have been charged with implementing the education plan.

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