The project must represent an alternative to the new “Chinese Silk Roads”. Emmanuel Macron appointed Gérard Mestralletex-CEO of Engie and ex-president of Suez, as emissary for the logistics integration corridor project between Europe and Asia, designated as India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (Imec), indicated Monday the Élysée.
Announced on the sidelines of G20 in New Delhi on September 9, 2023, this corridor must be an alternative to maritime and rail links economically linking China to Europe, and aims to stimulate trade relations between India, the Middle East and Europe. An agreement in principle had already been signed by the United States, India, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the European Union, France, Germany and Italy, according to a press release released by the White House in September 2023.
This logistics corridor project “offers the opportunity to promote our commercial and development model combining economic growth and low-carbon transition”, underlines the Élysée.
Exchanges accelerated by 40%
Imec should take the form of “a rail link” and “will accelerate trade between India and Europe by 40%,” declared Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, on the sidelines of the G20. The project also provides for the construction of “an electric cable and a clean hydrogen pipeline which should promote energy exchanges”, as well as “a high-speed data cable”, specified the President of the Commission. , referring to “a green and digital bridge between continents and civilizations”.
Emmanuel Macron, who wants “France to become a key player in this project, hopes that Marseille can be the European “bridgehead” of the project, praising the “expertise” of French companies in terms of transport and energy.
French companies that Gérard Mestrallet, beyond his mission to represent France to other participating countries, will have to support before the design and implementation of the project so that they can best place themselves in the calls for tenders. “I have spoken with many companies in the fields of maritime and rail transport, construction, and even energy which are very interested in this project,” he explains, specifying that Imec is still in the process of his beginnings.
A “leading national interest”
The first emissary to be designated among the participating countries, the former president of Suez, the company responsible for the construction of the Suez Canal in the 19th century, will first have to “identify ports, railway and energy infrastructures to assess the existing flows and forecast future flows. “The port of Marseille, a strategic maritime infrastructure in the Mediterranean, could have a big role to play, particularly in receiving hydrogen,” continues Gérard Mestrallet.
Without mentioning the Marseille city, the mission letter from the Élysée charges him with “positioning France as the main entry and exit point, in Europe, of this future corridor”. A mission letter which also evokes the “primary national interest” of this project which “can contribute to our strategy of diversifying our sources of supply and strengthening our economic, energy and health security”.