‘Your new homeland’: France’s Macron launches website to woo US scientists


French President Emmanuel Macron this week launched a website which aims to encourage US scientists and researchers frustrated with President Donald Trump’s position on climate change to move to France.

The website “Make Our Planet Great Again” was a clear dig at Trump and his June 1 announcement that he would withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement, but also made good on an appeal Macron made back in February.

The website said senior university faculty members, but also junior researchers and PhD candidates, were eligible to move to France to work on climate change, earth system science or energy transition projects, promising generous financing and help with moving to the country.

It said senior researchers could apply for grants up €1.5 million, which would cover researchers’ salaries, as well as compensation for additional staff and work expenses. Junior researchers could apply for grants of up to €1 million.

“There is no restriction on your husband / wife working in France,” the site reassured scientists, adding: “If you have children, note that French public schools are free, and the tuition fees of universities and “grandes écoles” [highly competitive French universities] are very low compared to the American system.”

Flexing English language

Makeourplanetgreatagain.fr asked prospective candidates to upload a one-page project proposal along with a professional resume, offering a list of universities and research institutions in France where US scientists could eventually work.

Macron’s initial appeal to US scientists came while he was still campaigning as a presidential candidate earlier this year. “Please come to France. You are welcome, it’s your nation,” he said in an English-language video published on Twitter on February 10, and which has since been shared over 20,000 times.

The French president doubled-down earlier this month, after Trump confirmed his administration would not honour a pledge to cut US carbon emissions, made by his predecessor Barack Obama, and would quit a global accord to tackle climate change that was signed by over 190 countries in December 2015.

“I wish to tell the United States, France believes in you, the world believes in you, I know you are a great nation,” Macron said on June 1, speaking directly to scientists and entrepreneurs “disappointed” by Trump’s decision. “They will find in France a second homeland: I call on them, come and work here with us.”

The Élysée Presidential palace announced the launch of the “Make Our Planet Great Again” website with a press release that was sent to French journalists in English, an unprecedented move by a French president.

To date, there has not been any official reaction from French researchers, who have long complained about the lack of public funding for their work.

Date created : 2017-06-09

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