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Cablegate: France: Interior Minister Pledges "Return

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RR RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHLN
RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHFR #2024/01 3101514
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 051514Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY PARIS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4749
INFO RHMFIUU/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY WASHINGTON DC
RUEATRS/DEPARTMENT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 PARIS 002024

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON EFIN ETRD PREL FR
SUBJECT: FRANCE: INTERIOR MINISTER PLEDGES "RETURN
OF THE STATE" AS KEY TO ECONOMIC SECURITY

1. (SBU) Summary: French Interior Minister Alliot-
Marie made an impassioned case for the "return of
the state" in economic governance and a law
enforcement approach to economic security at a
recent high-level business colloquium. Ambassador
Stapleton was invited to speak on security and
globalization and addressed 100% cargo scanning.
Alliot-Marie's theme captured the preoccupation of
the French body politic. The Ambassador's remarks
focused on cooperation between major economies and
science-based risk management. End summary.

The Return of the State
- - - - - - - - - - - -

2. (SBU) Minister of Interior Michele Alliot-Marie
gave an impassioned speech at an October 21
colloquium on economic security hosted by French
employer's union, MEDEF. Arguing that the financial
crisis was the end of the age of innocence, Alliot-
Marie said the financial system was threatening to
"dig its own grave" through its "sophistication and
destructive imagination." The State needed to
recognize citizens' vulnerabilities before a range
of threats, including the "growing gulf between the
development of the market and democracy."
Globalization brought more than just economic
growth; it also brought greater threats to the
economy, energy security, environment, and public
safety.

3. (U) Alliot-Marie said the State was the keystone
in responding to society's needs, and the Interior
Ministry of the 21st century needed to pursue a
global approach to security that included economic
security. She called for more state intervention in
establishing and enforcing common ground rules in
finance, as well as taking a law-enforcement
approach to economic security. She stressed that
the State must become as agile in anticipating
criminality as bad actors are in exploiting
disappearing borders, new technology, and loopholes
in regulatory oversight. While highlighting her own
"tough on crime" message, Alliot-Marie signaled her
intent to seek a stronger role in financial crime
and law enforcement issues.

4. (SBU), MEDEF president and key Sarkozy reform
ally, Laurence Parisot, gave remarks that dovetailed
with Alliot-MarieQs focus on order and the State.
Parisot stressed that for open markets to work,
common rules must apply. She disparaged ChinaQs
currency valuation policy as an example of not
playing by the rules. Parisot repeatedly drew
attention to the importance of strengthening the
transatlantic partnership, even if "Europe does want
to go faster" on some regulatory issues.

100% Scanning
- - - - - - -

5. (SBU) Ambassador Stapleton underscored continued
U.S. commitment to free trade as implementation of
the 9/11 ActQs requirement to scan 100% of U.S.-
bound containers moves forward. He rejected the
characterization of 100% scanning as a trade
barrier. But he acknowledged the challenge of
crafting appropriate and balanced policy responses
when emotions run high at times of crisis. Security
policy needed to be based on science and fact, not
emotion or fear. The United States would use all of
its risk-management and analytical tools in
implementing the 100% scanning mandate.

6. (U) Neither French Customs nor industry (DHL)
panelists criticized 100% scanning head-on, but both
stressed the need to put people Q "not algorithms" -
- at the center of anti-terrorism enforcement
action. Industry representatives also pushed for
U.S. recognition of industry "good conduct" ratings
established through the EU's Authorized Economic
Operator concept. The largely business audience
took a strong interest in the 100% scanning
discussion, and thinned considerably once it had
ended.

7. (U) The French Embassy in Washington will host a
November 7 colloquium on "Securing the Supply Chain:
The European Customs Approach." Featuring French,

PARIS 00002024 002 OF 002


German, and EC speakers, the event is expected to
air continued EU and industry concern over 100%
scanning.

8. (SBU) Comment: The "return of the state" theme is
clearly not unique to France in the current
environment. But the gusto with which the political
class has embraced it may be. President Sarkozy
continues to set the tone for his government,
announcing initiatives to support employment,
provide financing to small business, jawboning banks
into lending to business, and generally working to
reassure the French that there's a "pilot in the
plane." For the moment Laurence Parisot's MEDEF and
the business community are playing along, pushing
code-of-conduct standards on remuneration and
otherwise echoing the government's call for a
"moralization" of capitalism. But the emotion
behind Alliot-Marie's pitch reminds us that, in an
environment that some view as a vindication of
French dirigisme, the risk of overreach is
considerable.

STAPLETON

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