Thursday, January 9, 2014

The War of the Two Quais

The Quai d'Orsay has taken the initiative in flogging French exports, according to Le Monde, and has thus irritated the upstream Quai de Bercy. Hence the War of the Two Quais. But why not a Bridge over the River Quai instead (forgive me!)? Would it be too much to expect the two ministries to work together in the national interest?

The devil, I suppose, is in the details, and this is an area about which I don't have much detailed knowledge. But if I were an American businessman looking to do business in France, I might not even know the name of the Quai Bercy, but I would be able to find the phone number of the nearest consulate in my phone book. Hence it seems to me perfectly reasonable for Fabius to seek to gin up his ministry's capabilities on this front.


Mitch Guthman said...

It is a bit of a pickle. I think the problem is that, at the moment, the government of France is organized around a group of autonomous ministries, each lead by an independent coequal minister who thinks that his or hers is the most important ministry. Naturally, the result is an incoherent and confused government, sort of a governmental tower of Babel.

I think there is a solution. I propose that there should be a sort of an over-minister to whom these different ministers would be subordinate. That person would responsible for setting an overarching policy for all ministries based on his vision of France’s future.

One person to govern the country and make all the ministries speak with the same voice. Perhaps someone selected by a vote of all the people. We could call that person the “president”.

I really think that France needs a president. It should elect one as soon as possible.

bernard said...

This is actually a bureaucratic war that may have been lasting for 100 years and definitely has been lasting a minimum of 35 years (I would make an acceptable witness in court...). At the start so-to-speak was the DREE, a Quai offshoot with inputs from Finance. Many battles were fought over its control. Last I'd heard, the last battle - but not the war of course - had been won by Bercy, but I may not be current on my bureaucratic warfare history. Thus, in all the 'big' French embassies, the conseillers economiques are closely linked to Bercy, by which I mean the Tresor not the Minister of course - dream on! -. In the smaller ones, there may be some more Quai linked people.

What is real and very welcome on the ground is that indeed Fabius directed Embassies in the summer of 2012 to put a high emphasis on assistance and support of French business. I kid you not, no Foreign Affairs Minister prior had ever asked its embassies to assist French Businesses. Not one. It had never crossed their minds that they could be useful.

DHMC said...

"But why not a Bridge over the River Quai instead" made my morning...