via Associated Press
POLITICS – A lost body. With the announcement of his reform of the higher civil service in spring 2021 and the abolition of Ena, Emmanuel Macron promised the end of certain bodies, including the prefecture. The Quai d’Orsay has not been spared either.
A decree of Saturday April 16th, published in the Official Journal a day later, Sunday April 17th, confirms the abolition of two bodies that make up the hierarchy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs: that of the Foreign Affairs Advisers and that of the Plenipotentiary Minister. A few thousand officials from the top of the pyramid, ambassadors or representatives of France outside the borders. They must be “wiped out” by 2023, according to the text widely circulated on social media on Monday.
And for a good reason. After the Quai d’Orsay was set on fire, the formalization of this measure caused a stir in the political class. If she presents new arguments to Marine Le Pen in a duel with the head of state a week before the second round of the presidential election, she will be denounced from all sides.
On social media, candidate for the National Assembly Emmanuel Macron accuses him of wanting to “replace impartial civil servants with nepotism” by publishing the “decree suppressing our diplomatic corps” “a few days before the end of his mandate”.
The same criticism for Jean-Luc Mélenchon. The leader of rebellious France in the presidential election, who has been inconspicuous since his narrow defeat in the first ballot on April 10, also speaks on Twitter of “enormous sadness”. “France sees the destruction of its diplomatic network after several centuries. The second in the world”, complains the one whose voters are in great demand in this intermediate two round, “the promo buddies will let themselves be named”.
Official Journal: Abolition of the diplomatic corps. France saw its diplomatic network destroyed after several centuries. The 2nd in the world. Promo friends can be named. Great sadness.
— Jean-Luc Melenchon (@JLMelenchon) April 18, 2022
Several elected officials from the right, left or center also express their concerns with them. And they’re far from the only ones. Gérard Araud, for example, French ambassador to the United States until 2019, makes the same comments, in a more polite tone, of course. “France will therefore be the only major western country without professional diplomats. A story spanning several centuries ends like this,” he wrote in a first message on Twitter, before seeing an open door “for American-style nominations.”
The one who relays the criticism of former foreign minister Michel Barnier adds: “By caricaturing diplomats, we forget that diplomacy is a profession, an experience, a knowledge, a tradition, a pride.” At risk, with the government’s decision?
Not the end of ambassadors, but…
These concerns have their roots in the very philosophy of the transformation of the higher civil service. One of the main axes of the reform led by Minister Amélie de Montchalin is to bring together all categories (known as A+ in administrative parlance) in a new body of state administrators, ie 12,000 senior officials from all administrations combined. 900 jobs are affected on the Quai d’Orsay.
Specifically, these diplomats, prefects and other general finance inspectors will be invited to join this new, and thus broader, inter-ministerial pool of officials. A way “to get out of mimicry and conformism,” according to Montchalin in the columns of the World last November.
“France will always have ambassadors and consuls, will always have a diplomatic network that is one of the most important in the world,” defended the minister, explaining that she wanted to fight “corporatism”.
Nonetheless, the political concerns expressed on Monday, a few days before the second round of the presidential election, are broadly shared by those most concerned. “What would diplomacy be without diplomats?” asked 150 of them, who were still active in autumn 2021, in a forum published by the Abendzeitung. “Our diplomacy is in danger of disappearing. The abolition of the recruitment channels dedicated to the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs will deprive the French diplomatic network of valuable talent”, these signatories lamented … without succeeding in persuading Emmanuel Macron to withdraw. Against her will.
See also on The HuffPost: President: These seniors are responding to the students’ “Ni-Macron ni-Le Pen.”