How many regions are there in France ? The country is divided into 22 administrative regions, which in turn are divided into departments. Each region has its own character, traditions, cuisine and even French dialects. Ever since Hollande came to power rumors have been, if not rampant in terms of news coverage at least bubbling gently under the surface.
So finally the French president, François Hollande, made up his mind. He is fully in line with the European Union who's future lies in direct negotiations with the region of each member state and not so much with national governments. So the president released last week his "vision" of a how new administratively slim-lined France could look. The maxims "divide et imper"a and divide ut regnes were utilized some time earlier on by the Roman ruler Caesar and even by the Corsican emperor Napoleon.
Well Hollande says he wants to reduce the number of regions in France from the current 22 to 14, to "reduce regional bureaucracies and cut back on spending". This idea could possible save around 25 Billion per year. Prime minister, Manuel Valls, promptly showing up on TV to explain the mechanics of passing the proposals through parliament and how, if they were approved, the process of transition would take place. I'm pretty sure the the high-flyer government of the EU in Brussels & Strasbourg has already some use for these savings in mind. Maybe to liberate to Ukraine from some gang in the East... For eure the mercenaries of these countless lobby pundits from the corporate world are waiting for lucrative contracts to return the expectations to meet its creditors or investors.
It may initially be an open question whether the reduction in the number of regions is useful or not - the fact is, that it is not simple to separate all these officials from their offices. So where are then the saving to be made, if not there? Also, I think it's good if I can turn quickly and directly to my town hall if there is to clarify anything. Writing long letters or shimmy through complex websites is certainly not everybody's thing to gather comprehensively the information you need. The danger that this plan will result in even more anonymous collection of data without producing results is very large.
Sure, at a time when France is looking to cut back on public spending, that can't be a bad thing I hear people saying and agree to the point that also the current over-staffing does not bring particularly more results, - but at least there is an obligation for accountability for decision-makers in a specific region. This then stops when it can be said "blame the EU..."
Most telling perhaps was as Vals said that there could well be some room for maneuver, the debate had just begun and that the 14 regions outlined might not be the final figure, - it would be complicated. Yep, that's what it will become if FN who is winning in regions is taking on the challenge. That would satisfy the "petite bourgeois" who is loosing his work to eastern European countries and then contributing to China's GDP with the money he is receiving from the social services.
What I find very funny is this well known McKinsy / Anderson semantics: "The key is to reduce the number of regions to make them stronger and more competitive. There needs to be change and it has to be done." This so over-saturated speeches most people are finding more boring then tough. Living now for so many years here in France, I think Prime Minister Vals is right: "it would be complicated". The real beneficiary will be the EU-administration in Brussels, so it will take time for the French people and they will think it over and over again.
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