FRANCE: ARIA bangs north-east automotive success drum

By Simon Warburton | 18 November 2013

A regional French automotive industry association has hailed the success of its initiatives in attracting investment and jobs in the teeth of the country's economic challenges.

ARIA (Association Régionale de l'Industrie Automobile), created in 1996, represents 130 members in the north-east region of France and comprises manufacturers, suppliers, subcontractors and universities, as well as schools.

The body became ARIA Nord-Pas de Calais et Picardie this year, while since 2007, it has engaged in competitiveness issues for small and medium enterprises, co-financed by the French government, the region and the European Union.

"It is a region that is a bit privileged compared to others," ARIA president, Frédéric Przybylski, told just-auto on the sidelines of the recent Nord France Invest conference in Lille. "On [one] level, it is true the European and French markets are going down. On the other hand...the automotive division has increased a lot in our region.

"We need the State to share the vision of mobility and to make better the competitiveness of our partners."

France is routinely affected by industrial action, but Przybylski insists there is a role for labour bodies and management, through what he refers to as a new deal.

"Social partners have to defend their interests - we really want to describe new deals - a new social deal," he said. "It comes from a new law signed by the State, which allows adaptations and flexibility.

"Agility [with] overtime, working time and salaries, with the proviso there will be an optimisation of training."

The ARIA president said this process had had input from both the French employers federation, MEDEF and the trade unions.

Przybylski noted the Nord-Pas de Calais region had the second largest automotive production in France, with seven sites responsible for 19,000 jobs and 140 equipment manufacturers employing a further 12,500 staff.