Cablegate: France Goes Global --Reform at the Quai D'orsay

DE RUEHFR #2302/01 3541702
R 191702Z DEC 08



Department for E, F, M, S/P, the Director General and Transition


E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (SBU) Summary: Proposed reform at the French Ministry of Foreign
and European affairs (MFA) will create a new "globalization"
directorate (to be headed by E equivalent Christian Masset),
designed to encourage proactive policy in dealing with global
issues. In development, the MFA will focus on strategy rather than
implementation, with responsibility for the latter devolving to the
French Development Agency (AFD) and overseas missions, where
ambassadors will have direct control and responsibility for
development projects and budget management. The proposals are
causing a stir, with the release of a series of controversial
reports and critical press articles, some of which claim ambassadors
are taking the project less-than-seriously. The reform reflects,
and may reinforce, current GOF predilection for broad-based,
paradigm-shifting initiatives. Through the reform, the MFA is
attempting to reassert its authority in foreign policymaking.
Parliament will vote on the reform in early 2009. End summary.

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2. (SBU) In response to the rise of global issues, and following a
number of reports on French administrative reform, the MFA is
changing its organization chart and post operations. "Diplomacy by
influence" is an attempt to shape globalization through European
democratic values and to promote French contributions in human
rights, development policy, culture, language, and ideas.

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3. (SBU) The MFA reform aims to incorporate global issues into
policymaking institutionally, and to reduce the number of MFA
directorates. The International Cooperation and Development
Directorate is merging with Economics and Finance to become "Global
Affairs and Partnerships". It will have four poles of activity, and
will be directed by current Economic Director Christian Masset, who
is also the G-8 Foreign Affairs Sous-Sherpa. The "Attraction and
Mobility" pole regroups all large state-led contracts and programs
in economics, business development, education, science and
technology. The second pole pulls together programs in "French
Culture and Language," including audio-visual. The third, "Global
Public Goods," will tackle global issues: environment, biodiversity,
finance, energy, water, health, and migration. The fourth is
"Global Economy and Development Strategies," a particularly active
policy area for France, MFA officials note.

4. (SBU) The previous economic forecasting body transforms into a
policy planning directorate. It will collect input from academia,
think tanks, and civil society and focus on long term foreign policy
formulation and analysis. In pushing reform, Minister Kouchner has
said foreign policy is "not just about politics," the MFA needs a
multidisciplinary perspective. It should carry out trend analyses,
for instance on religious movements and demographic patterns. He
asked French ambassadors at an annual gathering in August how they
could analyze the situation in Myanmar, the Middle East, or the U.S.
elections, without understanding the interplay of religion and
politics. At some embassies, existing MFA-funded archeological and
social science research centers (staffed with French researchers)
will reorient activities and interact with a broader realm of
private and official local contacts.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - -
5. (SBU) International crisis management will be centralized. The
brain child of Kouchner, the MFA crisis center opened soon after the
start of the French EU Presidency. Kouchner told French ambassadors
its role would be pivotal in an era where "there are more crises
than wars." MFA contacts said it is part of an effort to operate
less reactively and demonstrate leadership through global crisis
reporting and assessment. The MFA crisis center has a staff of 50,
operating 24/7, with an annual budget of USD 13 million (taken from
existing programs). It acts as a command center for organizing
humanitarian action, coordinating efforts by French agencies,
service providers in the field, NGOs, and ensuring links to foreign
governments. It also monitors the welfare of French citizens

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6. (SBU) The reform aims to give more political influence to
geographical directorates, which will be spared budget cuts to
better quantify, report, and oversee all GOF interagency activity in
the field. The goal is to provide a broad-based integrated
assessment of foreign policy initiatives, including French public
services, bilateral and multilateral partners. Moreover, the MFA
hopes to reclaim leadership over foreign policy areas where it has
lost influence in recent years (including immigration, sustainable
development and industry/commercial policy). (Comment: GOF
ministries responsible for immigration, economy, and research have

PARIS 00002302 002 OF 003

opened international offices that, in many instances, escape MFA/COM
authority. End Comment.) Recognizing the growing investment of
NGOs, private sector actors, and charitable foundations in global
affairs, the reform is designed to better leverage MFA's limited
development aid through public-private partnerships, according to
our MFA contacts.

- - - - - - - -
7. (U) A new system of classifying embassies will result in staff
cuts and significant reallocation of resources. France's 160
embassies will fall into three categories: 30 large embassies,
universal in policy scope; 100 mid-sized embassies with focused
missions relevant to local issues; and 30 small diplomatic "presence
posts" or observation posts with younger, relatively junior and
inter-functional ambassadors. (Note: MFA contacts tell us France is
taking a page from the American Presence Post playbook.) France is
also shifting representation geographically from OECD countries
toward emergent powers and "nations in crisis". It opened four
consulates in the last 18 months (Calcutta and Bangalore, India,
Chengdu and Shenyang, China, Yekaterinburg, Russia, and Erbil,
Northern Iraq), and a total of 16 new embassies are planned. Since
1989, 56 overseas posts have been closed, and 47 opened.

8. (SBU) On development, the MFA will increasingly rely on the field
experience of its ambassadors for program implementation and
interagency coordination. The COM will decide development policy,
based on broad strategic goals outlined in multiyear GOF development
strategies, and exercise a greater fiduciary role to improve
cost-effectiveness of post operations. Cultural attaches, the
French Development Agency (AFD) and (in a departure from current
practice) French contractors, will report to the ambassador. AFD,
which falls under the authority of both the MFA and the Ministry of
Finance, will take on a more robust, overarching project management
role at overseas posts.

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9. (SBU) Foreign Minister Kouchner says the changes are also
designed to move the MFA toward a "culture of results." Previous
performance indicators, such as the number of cables sent by posts,
are under review. In what press reports are calling a
"revolutionary" move, ambassadors' compensation will be adjusted
upward for hardship and danger environments (Kabul, Islamabad,
Algiers, Beirut, Baghdad), while others will see salaries drop. The
MFA reform is also designed to support broader GOF cost-cutting
efforts. To prepare for reforms, ambassadors were to submit a
three-year plan by October that would outline staff and operating
cost cuts. The majority have not done so. A new Senate report
criticizes MFA management for failing to press ambassadors on the
importance of the exercise for moving forward with public sector
reform. But Budget Minister Eric Woerth, who has responsibility for
overall GOF public sector cost-cutting efforts, reports "no problem"
with ambassadors in this regard.

10. (SBU) MFA contacts told EmbOff they are feeling the strain of
reform, and the need to produce results with fewer resources. Since
2000, the MFA has reduced its operating expenses by 21 percent.
From 1997 to 2007 it cut staff by 11 percent. Another 700 positions
will be cut by attrition in the next three years, with only one out
of every two retirees scheduled to be replaced. In the last two
years this policy affected contractors and overseas technical
assistance slots. But in 2009-2011 it will be expanded to career
officer positions. The MFA also will consolidate its operations
into a smaller number of facilities in Paris and its suburbs. Where
feasible, missions abroad will be collocated with EU partners.
France already has opened joint missions with Germany and the UK in
some locations.

11. (SBU) Comment: The ambition of Kouchner's "Ministry of
Globalization" is for France to influence political and economic
globalization, not react to it. The reform reflects -- and may
reinforce -- this government's foreign economic policy penchant for
the cross-sectoral strategic approach to emerging global governance
issues, whether warranted or not. Rumblings of a "post-Doha" WTO
that could better account for climate change and other externalities
(as very roughly sketched out on various occasions by Trade Minister
Idrac and others), or the GOF's initial vision for the Global Food
Partnership that would have incorporated everything from trade
policy to climate change, come to mind. Should the MFA reform bear
fruit (which is far from certain), it may take the form of more of
these sorts of initiatives. We should welcome the opportunity to
engage with France on creative, cross-disciplinary approaches to
common challenges. We should be wary of efforts to dress up
protectionist notions (such as "societal preferences") in the guise
of new approaches to managing globalization.

PARIS 00002302 003 OF 003

12. (SBU) Comment (continued): In the near-term the reform is
likely to have the most impact on the implementation of French
development policy. AFD and French overseas missions should emerge
in a stronger position, with reinforced policy implementation
responsibilities over a broader range of sectors. Presumably this
could facilitate on-site donor cooperation/coordination with the
French. Conversely, the profile of the French junior minister for
development cooperation (currently Alain Joyandet) may be
diminished. With the MFA's development directorate being subsumed
into a broader "globalization" directorate, and other
responsibilities being hived off to AFD, the junior minister's
authority becomes more diffuse. (This cable was drafted by
Embassy's 2007-2008 Transatlantic Diplomatic Fellow.)


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