French PM speaking at the 2018 Ambassadors' Conference
29 August 2018

#ConfAmbass: the roadmap for heads of diplomatic missions

As is the case every year, the Ambassadors’ Conference set guidelines for activities on the part of France’s representatives abroad and at international organisations. This year provided an opportunity to emphasise the necessary reconstruction of the world order and of Europe, which must become more sovereign, united and democratic.
 

Opening the Conference on 27 August, the President of the Republic reminded his audience that, in a context of unprecedented international tensions, the first Paris Peace Forum is set to take place on 11 November 2018. The Forum aims to step up collective action by mobilising States, international organisations and civil society alike, now that the world is having to face up to the dual crisis of multilateralism and Europe.
 

 

The question of Europe’s security and defence is central to the Head of State’s concerns, and he was pleased to see the latest progress made in this area (consolidation of the common defence policy, creation of a defence fund to finance concrete initiatives, conclusion of strategic agreements with Germany, and the European Intervention Initiative). A plan for improving European solidarity with regard to security will be presented over the course of the next few months.

Referring to the difficult situation in Syria, which, come what may, must end with the Syrian people being able to choose their leaders, and the progress made in the Sahel and Libya as a result of France’s support (creation of the G5 Sahel Joint Force, the increasing importance of the African Union’s role, the Alliance for the Sahel, etc.), Emmanuel Macron also asserted that “absolute unilateralism and the trade war” were not answers to the inadequacies of the international trade regulation system. In order to integrate the social and environmental requirements of all parties, an initial conference will be held alongside the 11 November Forum. Negotiation and adoption of a new Global Pact for the Environment is another of French diplomacy’s priority goals.

On the following day, the Prime Minister therefore presented the principles underlying implementation of the programme, which provides for a cultural cooperation budget stabilised in 2019 and increased resources for the international solidarity policy (which will account for 0.55% of gross national income by 2022). Implementation will consist of providing concrete resources, on a daily basis and at strategic level, to manage each embassy via three levers:

  • "Local intelligence" of day-to-day resources, through decompartmentalisation of embassy departments.
  • Evolution of State networks abroad, by profession and geographical area, with job development and redeployment in accordance with the priorities of each diplomatic post.
  • Budgetary savings, set to rise to 10% of the payroll by 2022, without detriment to the diplomatic network’s universality or security, or the teaching of the French language across the world.
A "transformation contract" will be drawn up by the end of this year, setting out the reform’s goals to be achieved by 2022, in line with the more general context of the reform of the civil service (“Public Action 2022”) and based on renewed social dialogue, increased recourse to contract workers (in particular for professions not specific to public service), revision of the remuneration policy, and support for mobility and career change projects.
 
Portrait of French PM Edouard Philippe
"You see (…) what France needs in order to live up to its vocation and its era. And to recover its full and entire power, it needs a bold, clear message. We have one. It needs an administration in good order; a robust economy; sound public finances; skilled men and women. It needs innovation and investment. It needs a vision, in particular in Europe."
Édouard Philippe
Quai d’Orsay Conference Centre, 28 August 2018