Not surprising for a Frenchman, Alain Juppé, mayor of Bordeaux and a former prime minister of France, puts quality of life at the heart of the competitiveness agenda.

“First, we have to try to improve the quality of life in Bordeaux,” he says. This attractive city, listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site and internationally renowned for its wines, would appear to score well on this front already, but, the mayor says, “that was not the case 10 years ago – the city was very dark, the facades were not as they are today.”

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Development spree

 

The building facades are not the only aspect of the city to be updated, however. “We have also improved transportation in the city by building 45 kilometres of tram line, which has been very successful, and we are developing new sectors and new programmes for housing.

“The population has increased by 8% between 1999 and 2006, so it is a complete change from the 1990s,” he says. “Next to the station and the new high-speed train we are planning a European business centre and I hope it will work – in spite of the crisis and after the crisis.”

National investment

In order to keep cities such as Bordeaux competitive, Mr Juppé would like to see the French government invest more in education, research and innovation. “The problem in France with the universities is that we do not spend enough money on students,” he says.

However, he applauds the government policy with regard to identifying and funding “pools of competitiveness” around the country.

“In Bordeaux we have several areas of competitiveness: the aircraft industry, the laser industry, chemicals, and wood, because of our large amount of forest. I think it is a very good idea to improve the competitiveness of our industrial activities,” says Mr Juppé.