Once again I take up my pen to rebel about what seems to me to be another resignation of the French public authorities in front of the American diktat, encouraged by other Europeans, here in this case the Netherlands.
What are we talking about, and why is this case so iconic? Photonis has been a French company since it left the Philipps group. It specializes in particular in optronics and light intensifiers, and therefore is a vital geostrategic and defense issue for France, particularly for the use of these technologies in the field of night vision … But despite this, looming a desertion in the open on the part of the highest authorities of the state (Les Echos)
How is this case emblematic?
This case is emblematic on several points, the first being the inability of French economic and banking players to provide fast-growing companies with access to sustainable financial resources that would allow them to ensure their growth.
This deficiency is even more flagrant in the field of defense where innovative players have the worst difficulties in finding financing, especially at the level of banks which are very cautious about this type of activity, and do not play their role (La Tribune)…
Faced with this treacherous disengagement from the banks, the public authorities remain at the very least silent and unable to put in place financing that would allow us to maintain our sovereignty over cutting-edge industrial areas. It is distressing to think that after a semblance of awareness, especially on the part of the Minister of the Economy Bruno Lemaire, we are heading towards a new renunciation instigated by the President of the Republic Emmanuel Macron, gravedigger of Alsthom then that he was himself Minister of the Economy, but this is not the only case where his management can be called into question (Marianne).
Unfortunately, I have to repeat myself, the risks of loss of sovereignty are unfortunately known and lead to the same impacts each time.
- Maintaining our sovereignty means maintaining skilled jobs in France. Photonis notably has a high-tech production plant in Brive-la-Gaillarde. This means that there are skilled jobs in the provinces. In terms of maintaining activity, shouldn’t this be a priority? See even strengthen the factory and jobs at this factory.
- Keeping our sovereignty also means keeping an economic weapon, a potential source of wealth, namely patents on cutting-edge technologies.
- It is also not to depend on the US and its extraterritorial laws during defense contracts with third countries.
- Finally, it is to allow our armies to continue to have high-performance equipment and not to be subject to American decisions.
As this brief overview shows, abandoning Photonis to American control is like the case of Alsthom, risking losing key skills that we will lack, because Photonis does not only intervene in the defense sector but also in that of health. Once again, there is the risk of losing our independence on complete value chains, as has been the case since the sale of Alsthom where we lost control of the complete industrial chain of a nuclear power plant (FrontPopulaire). And as in many similar cases, within 1 to 2 years we will see social plans and the Brive-la-Gaillarde site be called into question, despite the promises of Teledyne, which like the promises of our policies do not. commit that those who believe in …
Which solutions ?
It is very complex question, in fact, as we have seen, banks do not seem to play their essential role in the national economy, especially when it comes to the defense industry (Les Echos / La Tribune) This has an impact not only for Photonis, but also for a number of small but innovative players in this field who are weakened and risk seeing their salvation only in foreign investors …
Yet initiatives like those led by the DGA aim to save our national gems (Les Echos). Likewise our current Minister of Defense, Florence Parly, has kicked off a new investment fund dedicated to defense, DefInvest, endowed with 50 million euros (Les Echos), however this sum seems derisory in the face of to the stakes …
There is also always the possibility of partial nationalization, which however does not seem to be envisaged from what I have read. It would be a wise move, however, especially if the state came up to the blocking minority …
Alas once again, it is clear that, despite the affirmation of an awareness of the subjects of industrial and strategic sovereignty, Emmanuel Macron president like Emmanuel Macron minister of the economy, continues to sell off the economic and industrial jewels of France, accelerating the impoverishment of our country in the long term.
His actions and those of his government, are found at the digital level where our sovereignty is also undermined, for the record the Health Data Hub with the choice of the Microsoft Azure Cloud (see article here and here), the BPI which stores the data government-guaranteed loans on Amazon’s AWS cloud (see article here), I’ll end this deadly litany here.
Is there still hope, I want to believe it, I seem to feel a shudder in this awareness of the importance of our sovereignty, more and more players are mobilizing, especially in the digital sector (PlayFrance.Digital), but the road will be long and strewn with pitfalls …