Jobs or environment: the debate over plans to build 'EuropaCity' Paris complex

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A battle of figures is under way over plans for a massive new commercial centre in the Paris region. The EuropaCity project has been earmarked for construction on one of the last large undeveloped areas around the French capital and is now at the heart of a debate between two very different views of development.

The first approach insists that this monument to consumerism and entertainment can help save a suburb of outer Paris that has long been burdened by unemployment and social stigma. The other approach fears that this vast development on farmland between Gonesse, Roissy and Aulnay-sous-Bois north of Paris, a triangle of land squeezed between the airports of Le Bourget and Charles de Gaulle at Roissy, will destroy the quality of life of locals and contribute to greenhouse gas emissions and climate disruption. Ironically, the COP21 climate summit in December, at which France and other nations pledged to combat climate change, was held just down the road at Le Bourget conference centre.