Relations between France and the UK have been put to the test after a comment by British Prime Minister, David Cameron. Alluding to Paris' planned wealth tax, he said London would welcome fleeing French entrepreneurs.
France's European Affairs Minister Bernard Cazeneuve made a point of telling reporters on Tuesday that he was confident patriotism would prevent French industry leaders from decamping to Britain in the face of a proposed new 75-percent tax on the rich.
His comments came on the back of a dig by British Prime Minister David Cameron at French President Francois Hollande's planned tax hike. The British leader had jokingly told a business audience that "if the French press ahead with the tax, we will roll out the red carpet and welcome French businesses to Britain."
"They can pay their taxes in Britain and that can pay for our health services and schools and everything else," Cameron added on the sidelines of a G20 summit in Mexico.
Tax system critics galore
Cameron's remarks caused a good deal of irritation in Paris, although European Affairs Minister Cazeneuve just put them down to "British humor". "What I can say to this assertion is that there are French bosses who are patriots," Cazeneuve told Canal Plus television.
But employers in France are angry about the planned tax hike, saying that company morale had already plummeted to crisis level in the country.
"We've had many meetings with the staff in ministries to explain what's wrong, but we're becoming deeply distressed, and we fear a systematic strangling," the head of the employers' association Medef, Laurence Parisot, said in a statement.
hg/ng (Reuters, dpa)