French PM at Station F - Ambassadors' week
1 September 2017

#SemaineAmbass: “Words are not enough. We need to take action.”

On 31 August, which marked the closing day of “Ambassadors’ Week” (an annual fixture during which, among other things, diplomats receive their roadmaps for the year to come and get to meet a wide public), the Prime Minister addressed those in attendance. During his speech, Édouard Philippe emphasised the importance of French diplomacy and the resources available to it, in direct connection with France’s economic and social transformation.
The Prime Minister first of all reminded his audience that, in a world where “Machiavellian moments” change the course of history and cause imbalances, it is above all necessary to bring about a transformation of France’s economic and social structures.
France's PM Edouard Philippe
“I am well aware that others before me have – in general with conviction and sincerity – extolled the extent of the reforms they undertook. Some of them were indeed far-ranging, I don’t dispute it. But what we want to implement is something altogether different. I am speaking of a transformation. A transformation of our country’s economic and social structures via (…) three key priorities, what might be called the ‘triangle of transformation’”.
Edouard Philippe
31 August 2017

The “triangle of transformation”

In Édouard Philippe’s eyes, such economic and social transformation rests on three key pillars: restoring economic competitiveness, making successful ecological and digital transitions, and prioritising innovation and research.
  • Challenges to be met if the French economy’s competitiveness is to be restored include adaptation of the labour market (see the labour law reform underway), consolidation of public finances and reduction of tax pressure, and a stepping-up of investments.
  • France, which hosted the final negotiation and signature of the climate agreement, should be capable of making a successful ecological transition (find out more about the Climate Plan). As regards digital technology, the Prime Minister stressed the importance of quality relations between all interested parties in order to enable “the achievement of invaluable new advances” and ensure that “no one is left by the wayside”.
  • Prioritisation of intelligence must be based on investment in the teaching of foundational skills, the excellence of university programmes and education and training of employees, not forgetting research and innovation (to which 10 billion euros is to be devoted in the Great Investment Plan).

French diplomacy, the “core network”

Édouard Philippe stated that he counted on the diplomatic network to meet these challenges and explain them to all of the stakeholders concerned: policy-makers, opinion leaders, investors, startuppers, etc.
The way the diplomatic network operates should enable it to become the “core network”, in the image of the digital platforms where exchanges are made. Referring to his presence at Station F, the world’s biggest startup campus, Édouard Philippe declared that, “if we are here, it’s because one of a diplomatic network’s functions is to get first-hand knowledge of such places at the forefront of change. Places were the standards of tomorrow’s world, future norms, are decided upon”. This means “going to meet with startups, on university campuses, in incubators, amongst the young”.
In order to meet these challenges, modernisation is necessary both at geographical level (with the policy on redeployment of France’s presence across the world) and political level (in particular via network facilitation and the launching of programmes with all types of stakeholders, including alumni, sponsors and enthusiasts).

Objectives and resources

The Prime Minister nevertheless reminded his audience that national security was still the absolute priority, given the “terrorist organisations” that have “declared war on the world” and which are attempting to “impose a new totalitarian order” on it (on this subject, see Reinforcing internal security and the fight against terrorism).
The other top priority is the European Union: the President of the Republic, elected on the European ambition to which he is committed, is its anchor point. The Government is deploying this priority on four fronts: posting of workers, the right to asylum, trade policy and the Europe of defence.
Finally, there will be renewed support for export (in particular by ensuring that all departments under ambassadorial authority are fully coordinated and reinforcing ambassadors’ economic roles). Promotion of “destination France will be facilitated by a range of measures designed to ensure reception of 100 million visitors in 2020 (such as issuance of visas within 48 hours for 10 new countries including Russia and a guaranteed maximum waiting time at airport border control, of 30 minutes for Schengen citizens and 45 minutes for nationals of other countries).
The Prime Minister concluded his speech by reminding his audience that as words are not enough in the world as it is today, action must follow: “Such action means coordinated public finances, a contained debt, a more efficient labour market and mature social dialogue. And it also means an attitude of openness – openness to the world – along with an attitude of confidence in our assets, in our uniqueness, without arrogance but nonetheless without apology”.


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