French AI industry fears impact of proposed immigration cuts

Renaissance party, which recently suffered heavy losses in the European Parliament election, has prioritised tech sector growth by facilitating the hiring of foreign talent.

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Leading figures in France’s tech industry have expressed concern that immigration restrictions proposed by the far-right National Rally (RN) party could hinder the nation’s ambition to become Europe’s top AI hub. Following significant losses for his Renaissance party in the European Parliament election, President Emmanuel Macron has called for snap elections in the lower house, set for 30 June and 7 July.

Macron has prioritised support for domestic tech companies by easing hiring from abroad, lobbying against stringent EU regulations, and attracting investments from giants like Amazon and Microsoft. However, the RN, expected to win the most seats in the upcoming election, aims to reduce migrant worker numbers and increase scrutiny on foreign investments, which tech executives fear will undermine AI advancements.

Julien Launay, CEO of AI startup Adaptive ML, emphasised that skilled immigration is crucial for bringing talent to France, noting that many skilled professionals start as students and interns before entering the workforce. Camille Lemardeley, general director of the education startup Superprof, warned that the RN’s policies could create a less welcoming environment for international professionals, potentially stifling innovation and competitiveness across the tech sector.

Hugo Weber, head of public affairs at e-commerce firm Mirakl, echoed these concerns, stating that the RN’s policies could jeopardise France’s tech ecosystem by limiting access to global talent and venture capital. As France seeks to solidify its position as an AI leader, the proposed immigration restrictions pose a significant threat to the growth and sustainability of its tech industry.