“When the war has returned to the field, we must defend our priorities and our influence,” said Emmanuel Macron this Thursday, in front of an audience of diplomats at the Quai d’Orsay. There he unfolded his vision of French diplomacy for the decade to come, in a ministry troubled by the reform of the senior civil service which notably eliminated two bodies. Foreign affairs advisers and ministers plenipotentiary are called upon to join the new corps of state administrators which, at the end of this year, will also include prefects and finance inspectors. Extremely rare, the diplomats went on strike on June 2, opposing the end of a “professional diplomacy”.
The president was determined in his vision that “a profession does not need a body to exist. You need a professional sector, a protected career. Yes to the profession and no to the body, ”he professed. A movement of ambassadors in the coming days should illustrate the executive’s desire to open up these posts to senior officials who are not from the Quai. The French Association of Professional Diplomats, created in August 2022 and which has 400 members, underlined in a note dated March 14 “the danger of seeing an increase in the proportion of agents unprepared for the challenges of diplomatic work, in particularly in the many crisis situations which are currently shaking up all the continents and where the security of our fellow citizens is at stake”.
Assuming this reform which will profoundly transform the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Emmanuel Macron said he wanted to “re-arm” it, with an increase of 700 full-time jobs over four years and an increase in appropriations to bring them to 7, 9 billion in 2027. He also announced the creation of a citizen diplomatic reserve.
Means to serve its vision of a diplomacy which must mobilize many more actors outside the ministry to build coalitions on various technical subjects (energy, climate, health, etc.) in a world that is becoming repolarized.
“We need to have a projected interdepartmental culture. Import technical skills and build them in the various sectors under the strategic supervision of the Ministry,” he explains. “Let’s keep our paths of expertise and gain in agility and consistency” in order to gain clarity and strength of execution. “We will be more readable for the countries with which we have formed coalitions. »
Ability to influence
One of the imperatives is to better organize France’s capacity for influence, which is added to the “grammar of solidarity” (0.55% of GDP for humanitarian actions). “When we lose the information battle, we lose the result of our actions”, assures the president, who wants to modernize the tools for the networks and fight against misinformation of all kinds.
The modernization and transformation of the ministry are also the result of the Estates General of Diplomacy launched in the fall by Minister Catherine Colonna. A veteran of the Quai d’Orsay, Jérôme Bonnafont, permanent representative of France to the United Nations in Geneva and author of “Diplomat, for what? (Editions Odile Jacob), gave the minister, on Wednesday, the report which is a kind of radioscopy of the Quai.
A rare exercise in introspection, conducted between October and February, to which 5,000 agents out of the 13,600 in the ministry contributed. Everything is there: working conditions, way of life, status, future prospects, the place of the ministry in the State. The team of fifteen people who worked on the preparation of the report noted “the attachment of the agents to their mission, their concern after the numerous cuts of the past years and their hope for a budgetary recovery”. To pass the pill, Emmanuel Macron had indeed announced last year the creation of 100 positions.
The synthesis of the responses made it possible to write an “honest observation of the situation” and above all a thousand proposals of all kinds, both on the missions of the ministry and on the management of its agents and its organization. This report “will serve as a basis for the transformation of our diplomatic tool, at the service of the foreign policy of France and the French”, indicated Catherine Colonna when receiving it.