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Contracting in France

Michelle Reilly, managing director of CXC Global

With incredibly strong business and transport links and a rich culture, France has long been favoured as a destination of choice for contractors. Despite tough economic conditions in Europe, France’s economy is still growing, and GDP growth exceeded expectations in Q4 of 2015, expanding at a 0.3% quarter on quarter clip. Even against an ever-shifting geopolitical backdrop, the nation holds significant opportunities for highly specialised professionals operating across a wide variety of sectors.

Like many European nations, France’s ageing population is compounding acute skills shortages, particularly in the engineering and IT sectors, which is driving demand for specialist contractors. Not only is Paris a world renowned business destination but it’s also a well-established tech hub. Coined the Silicon Sentier, Paris has a booming start-up market and is also home to countless multinational giants. The government’s ‘La French Tech’ initiative is facilitating partnerships with other tech hubs across the globe to increase both innovation and the flow of international talent.

Engineering skills across a number of sectors are also in particularly high demand. Developments in the energy sector, such as the tidal projects in Paimpol-Bréhat and in Raz Blanchard, the latter of which will be installed as part of the 14MW Normandie Hydro project, will likely boost demand for contractors with relevant experience in the near future. While significant infrastructure developments such as the new high speed TVG link between Lyon and Turin, will undoubtedly continue to drive demand for highly skilled professionals for years to come.

Tax is slighter higher in France than the UK, but is comparable to many of its European neighbours – spanning from 14% up to 45% for the top earners. While contractors who are EU citizens won’t require a specific work permit, agencies placing contractors overseas in France should be aware that there are specific registration procedures that need to be adhered to, as well as slight nuances between the French tax system and our own. Dependant on the region, contractors may need to register their residence upon arrival or after three months - in some areas this is obligatory and the contractor may be liable to fines if improperly registered. Agencies should always consult with a specialist if they are unsure of any of the specific requirements.

While the EU referendum may lead some contractors to exercise caution over choosing France as a destination of choice for work, the nation holds a variety of opportunities for professionals in a number of different sectors. The rich and vibrant culture (and food) will make for a dynamic experience for any contractor who decide to make the leap over the Channel. 

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