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France wants Elon Musk to build Tesla factory in the country even as it threatens Twitter with a ban

SpaceX, Twitter and electric car maker Tesla CEO Elon Musk with France’s President Emmanuel Macron (L) at the Elysee presidential palace in Paris on May 15, 2023. France has been looking to woo Musk and Tesla to set up a factory in the country.

Michel Euler | AFP | Getty Images

PARIS — France is trying to convince Elon Musk to build Tesla’s next Gigafactory in the country, the nation’s digital minister told CNBC on Wednesday, in the most explicit comments yet that Paris wants the billionaire’s investment.

The courtship comes just as the minister threatened the Musk-owned Twitter with a ban, if it does not comply with upcoming European Union regulation.

“It will be great to have a Tesla factory in France, there has been a lot of effort and energy to make sure this is possible and this can happen,” Jean-Noel Barrot told CNBC’s Charlotte Reed at the Viva Tech conference in Paris.

France has beenlooking to boost its position as a hub for the electric car industry, opening its first electric car battery factory this year.

“We have also invested in an … entire sector of electric batteries so we will try to convince him that France is the best possible place in Europe to establish the next Tesla factory,” Barrot said.

Musk is expected to speak in Paris on Friday at the Viva Tech summit — one of France’s flagship technology conferences, where the government will have a large presence. Musk has been on the hunt for a new Gigafactory location, in addition to the company’s major car manufacturing plants already present in the U.S., Germany and China.

Barrot praised Musk as a “great inventor, probably one of the greatest of the beginning of this century.”

Musk’s Twitter could face EU ban

Barrot’s attempt to woo Tesla sharply contrasted his fiery words for the billionaire in relation to Twitter.

The minister last month said the social media app would be banned in the EU, if it did not follow the bloc’s upcoming Digital Services Act that goes into effect in August. The law will force tech giants, including Twitter, to police illegal content and disinformation on their platforms more aggressively, or risk potential multibillion-dollar fines.

“There will be huge scrutiny by the EU commission … on the actions Twitter is going to take to meet these new obligations. If Twitter fails to comply with these obligations , Twitter will face sanctions of up to 6% of global sales … In case those failures to comply are not … corrected, they will face an obligation to leave the EU”

“In the past couple of weeks, what we’ve seen is not reassuring as to the ability of Twitter to comply with these new rules,” Barrot added without specifying what aspects of Twitter policy are not reassuring.

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