France Remains The Most Attractive Country in Europe for Foreign Investors


The 2021 EY Attractiveness Survey for France, published by EY, confirms France’s position as European leader for incoming foreign investment in 2020.

France held its no. 1 position in 2020, receiving 985 investment projects across the country. For the second year running, it was ahead of the United Kingdom and Germany.

This achievement demonstrates the robust fundamentals of the French economy, strengthened by the proactive reforms the Government has implemented over the last four years.

A vast programme of long-term reforms has been implemented since 2017 to enhance France’s attractiveness for businesses. The Government has taken strong steps to boost competitiveness: cutting corporate taxation, reforming the labour market, making the research tax credit permanent, and reforming the taxation of persons through the creation of the flat tax on income and the real estate wealth tax. In addition, the Government has worked to simplify procedures for companies and investors, particularly through the 2019 business transformation and growth (PACTE) Act. These structural, long-term reforms made France Europe’s most attractive country in 2019.

France’s continued leadership this year demonstrates the effectiveness of the massive support measures deployed by France to address the economic consequences of the COVID-19 crisis. An exceptional emergency plan was implemented to support companies and preserve the economy’s fundamentals, jobs and, therefore, skills and expertise, with a clear result: foreign investors remain confident in France, as shown by regular reinvestment in their French sites (60% of projects identified are extensions).

The swift implementation of the France Relance recovery plan in summer 2020 and the Government’s continued attractiveness policy have bolstered France’s position in Europe. This survey confirms the excellent perception of the French business environment and the Government’s economic policy among international business leaders: 44% of foreign investors think France Relance is more effective than the recovery plans adopted by other European countries, while 56% of investors questioned planned to bring back activities to France.

The detailed responses show that France stands out in many categories. It ranks first for:

  • Installation of industrial projects, well ahead of competitors, with 341 manufacturing and industrial projects as against 153 in Turkey and 112 in the United Kingdom.
  • Installation of R&D centres, with 115 new investments in 2020.
  • Job creation, with 30,558 new jobs created in 2020, up 21.6% since 2017.

Moreover, 58% of business leaders believe France can become a global leader for ecology in the next five years.

Lastly, thanks to the post-Brexit effect and the attractiveness of the Paris financial centre, projects in the finance sector rose by 23% in 2020. This momentum makes Paris a leading European financial centre.

Bruno Le Maire, Minister of the Economy, Finance and the Recovery, said:

“This excellent result illustrates the vibrancy and robustness of our economy. Since 2017, we have liberated the French economy, thanks to the PACTE Act, and taken strong fiscal steps to put France back on track in international competition. Cuts to corporate and capital taxation and, this year, production taxes, have created a new stable and attractive tax environment for business. The deployment of the France Relance recovery plan continues our action to foster and step up investment in France. Along with the President of the Republic, we have made France Europe’s most attractive country. We intend to hold this position in future.”

Franck Riester, Minister Delegate for Foreign Trade and Economic Attractiveness, said:

“In a context that is exceptional in all respects, France added a second star to its crest in 2020 in the European championship of attractiveness. These figures confirm the robustness of our economic fabric, much appreciated by foreign companies which are major employers across our territory. Attractiveness cannot be decided; it must be developed, and these excellent results are the fruit of a clear and credible strategy to transform our country, which began in 2017 and has been stepped up under the France Relance recovery plan. It is clear that once you try France, you stay: investors now find the stability they need here to develop their projects.” 

Agnès Pannier-Runacher, Minister Delegate for Industry, said:

“France is once again at the top of the leader board when it comes to attractiveness for industrial projects. The number of industrial projects announced in France in 2020 is more than those in Germany and the United Kingdom put together. That shows that the efforts begun in 2017 to attract new investors are bearing fruit, despite the public health crisis. These efforts continue. We are dedicating €35 billion to industry under the France Relance recovery plan to decarbonize, attract back, innovate and modernize our production chains. These massive investments will create unprecedented impetus for competitiveness and attractiveness across France. We also need to continue simplifying the environment for businesses that create jobs. That is the aim of the Acceleration and Simplification of Public Action (ASAP) Act and other support measures we are putting in place.”


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