PSA Peugeot Citroen and the French Presidency are confirming the automaker’s CEO, Philippe Varin, was summoned to the Elysée Palace in Paris this weekend (14 April), although both sides refuse to divulge details.
It is widely thought President Sarkozy’s request was to discuss the future of PSA’s Aulnay site near the French capital that produces the C3 model and which has been the subject of intense speculation as to a possible closure.
However, neither the French Presidency in Paris, less than a week away from elections, nor PSA in the French capital, would reveal a single element of what was on the agenda of the two sides, both confining themselves to simply indicating a meeting had taken place.
“It is confirmed. He [Sarkozy] met M. Varin this weekend,” an Elysée Palace spokesman told just-auto from Paris. “We have no details – I confirm the meeting but we have no more details.”
Aulnay’s possible closure was mooted in an internal report by the manufacturer last year and leaked by the CGT union, already twitchy at Varin’s previous views that a reduction of production capacity for the group is unavoidable. Aulnay has lost 1,500 jobs since 2004.
“I can only confirm there was a meeting Saturday morning that lasted around one hour,” a PSA spokesman in Paris told just-auto. “We have no commentary to make – if there is a commentary to make it will be on the part of the Elysée.”
What has emerged is it was President Sarkozy who required the PSA chief to attend the Paris meeting at his official residence, even though the French automaker has temporarily halted all political visits to its factories during an increasingly close electoral campaign.
“There are no political visits now,” said the PSA spokesman. “We are not a political party – we are an industrial business. There is an election campaign in France and Nicolas Sarkozy meets a lot of people.”
The CGT union was not immediately available for comment.