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Commission to support restructuring in France

The European Commission is to support industrial restructuring in the Aquitaine region of France with financing of ECU 132.5 million. The Commission has just approved the restructuring programme, aimed at the recovery of the employment situation in the region, with the creatio...
The European Commission is to support industrial restructuring in the Aquitaine region of France with financing of ECU 132.5 million. The Commission has just approved the restructuring programme, aimed at the recovery of the employment situation in the region, with the creation of over 4,500 new jobs. To this end, the programme mainly includes measures in favour of businesses, but also training measures, initiatives to support equal opportunities, and environmental protection measures.

This is the first French programme for an Objective 2 region for the period from 1997 to the end of 1999. The total cost of the programme is almost ECU 500 million, with the balance coming from the French Government and the private sector. The areas to be covered by the programme are: Bayonne and south Landes, Bordeaux and Pau, Lacq and Orthez).

Absolute priority goes to creating and maintaining jobs, so the programme centres on measures to encourage businesses. The programme is constructed around three priorities:

- 1. Developing employment: This is to be achieved by improving the competitiveness of businesses, supporting innovation and the dissemination of new technologies and providing investment aid. Tourism is to be encouraged, as well as trade and craft industry, in particular in the context of urban renewal. A special effort will be made to help SMEs into new technologies, with a view to modernizing products, processes and organization;

- 2. Encouraging innovation: This part of the programme is intended to promote research and the transfer of technology, and to underpin business support structures. In particular, aid with setting up the Institut de Chimie et de Biologie (IECB) in Pessac will help to forge a link between research in the field of molecular chemistry on the one hand, and the pharmaceutical industry on the other;

- 3. Enhancing the attractiveness of the target areas: This chapter mainly concerns infrastructure, in particular through the development of ports and major logistical platforms. For example, financing the combined transport project of Bordeaux Hourcade will confirm the position of the Aquitaine region as a European nerve-centre for the distribution and handling of goods.
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