When they hear working lunches, guests from home and abroad like to accept the invitation to the richly set table in the French Presidential Palace. What chef Guillaume Gomez and his colleagues conjure up in the basement of the Élysée usually appeals even to the most discerning palate. The fact that Boris Johnson was served so many tough chunks on Thursday, was more due to the proposal, which had brought the British premier himself: He wants to renegotiate on the terms of the Brexit. "This option does not exist", France's head of state Emmanuel Macron had already informed the British the day before when Johnson tried to charm the Chancellor in Berlin.
France has always made it clear to the British since their referendum on leaving the EU that they will not try to keep them at any price, nor fear a Brexit without a deal. This did not change the friendly reception in the Élysée. A solution to the backstop hated by Johnson, Macron can only imagine "within the already negotiated framework," as he emphasized in a brief statement in the reception of the British Prime Minister in the courtyard of the Élysée. "We will not find an agreement in 30 days that will move away from the foundations." The backstop is a fallback option should the United Kingdom and the EU not agree on a single free trade agreement by the end of 2020. The UK would then have to remain part of the EU Customs Union, possibly permanently, in order to secure the open border between Ireland and Great Britain, which is part of Great Britain.
The renewed desire for negotiation should be more of a proof for Macron that the British have already had far too much to go through. Already last spring, when the break was again averted and postponed to October, France's president had turned strictly against an even longer delay. "We are ready", it says in Paris and on the northern coasts, where after Brexit the EU internal market ends and customs controls begin.
Paris has been trying for a long time to use Brexit to its advantage, much more openly than Berlin. Politically, because Macron wants to consolidate his position as a leading European and wants to warn voters at home against the fantasies of his right opponent Marine Le Pen Frexit. And financially, by luring as many Brits as possible to France.
For this purpose, even two so-called missionaries are on the move: The former French central bank chief Christian Noyer is to convince the London financial community on behalf of the head of state of the advantages of the location Paris. Ross McInnes, Chairman of the Space and Armaments Department Safran, is taking over the role of industrial contractor. "For us it's about benefiting," it says unequivocally in government circles. This is another reason why Macron's tone was and is sharper than that of the Federal Government.
While Noyer was able to convince several hundred employees of Bank of America Merrill Lynch with a good 10,000 square-foot Art Deco building, including views over France's capital from the leafy rooftop in the heart of Paris, McInnes aims primarily at the headquarters of foreign industrial companies in Great Britain and the R & D departments often staffed with staff from many different countries. The latter, in particular, already have problems recruiting new employees for sites in the UK, he says. "Research centers and corporate headquarters are therefore looking for a microcosm where they can recruit employees and where their spouses find employment."