The timing of this announcement – in the same week that the UK formally starts the Brexit process – shows that the Mayor of London is keen to show the city is still very much willing to work with Europe.
The UK may be about to leave behind the rest of the European Union, but its capital city is keen on forging closer links with its neighbors.
In the same week that Prime Minister Theresa May is to fire the starting gun for the two-year exit period, London has agreed a partnership with Paris in the areas of tourism and business.
A joint tourism initiative will begin in 2018 and will focus on marketing both capitals to overseas visitors, while the Paris-London Business Welcome Program will attempt to facilitate trade and investment between both cities thorough initiatives such as networking, discounted accommodation and preferential Eurostar rates.
It takes just over two hours to travel between the two cities by train and the proximity helps promote a natural closeness. According to cross-border investment monitor fDi Markets, London received $3.3 billion (£2.6 billion) from Paris over the past ten years. Paris has also benefited with 160 London-based companies setting up in Paris since 2006.
The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has been one of the biggest critics of the way Brexit has been handled. He is part of the left-of-centre Labour Party, while May is from the right-wing Conservatives.
The UK remains divided over its departure from the EU and the nature of the relationship with the remaining 27 states.
Just under 60 percent of Londoners who voted backed “remain” in the referendum, highlighting the sharp divide between the capital and the rest of the country. There is also the prospect of Scotland pushing ahead with its own referendum on leaving the UK, and a renewed campaign for a united Ireland.
Khan’s approach indicates that he perhaps wants to do things differently to May. There is also the hope that by joining forces with Anne Hidalgo, his counterpart in Paris, both destinations will benefit.
“London and Paris are two of the greatest cities in the world and we have so much to gain from joining forces. Never underestimate the incredible benefits to be found when major cities do business together. Our great friends in Paris and across the continent are well aware that working closely together remains to our mutual benefit,” Khan said.
Hidalgo, said: “Paris and London share common values and willpower. We want to be attractive to companies all over the world. Since the election of Sadiq, our two cities have been working better together. We are developing new exchanges and new projects. All these initiatives will create employment, activity and economic growth. It is a very positive dynamic that the Brexit will not change.”
Photo credit: Tower Bridge in London. The UK capital is linking up with Paris through a new tourism and business agreement. Davide D'Amico / Flickr