Olivier Becht, the new Minister for French nationals abroad: his first interview

Olivier Becht was appointed Minister Delegate for Foreign Trade, Attractiveness and French Nationals Abroad on July 4, 2022 in the government of Elisabeth Borne following the re-election of Emmanuel Macron.

This Alsatian, former Science-Po and enarque, discovered expatriation during his internship at the French Embassy in Denmark, when the country was in charge of the rotating presidency of the European Union in 2002. France and a graduate, he got involved in his native territory, being elected mayor of Rixheim, before taking the vice-presidency of the Haut-Rhin department and being elected deputy since 2017, under the banner Agir (former UMP/LR who decided to join Emmanuel Macron in 2017). His appointment allows him to access his first ministerial post.

At the height of the government’s return, while the challenges to be met are numerous, Olivier Becht accepted our invitation to take stock of the expectations of French people living abroad and the measures that the ministry is pursuing or initiating to improve the situation of our expatriate compatriots. .

With Jérémy Michel, we sweep in the podcast, available below, all the subjects at the heart of the concerns of French people residing outside France: education, consular administration, economic support and the field of competence of our elected officials.

“Rearming the consular administration”

Hit by the pandemic, the consular administration has been particularly disorganized, since the return to normal seems difficult. Because in addition to the difficulties linked to Covid-19, our consulates and diplomatic posts, for Olivier Becht, have been “disarmed” over the years for 3 decades by job cuts.

This year, for the first time in many years, the number of diplomats and consular administration officials will increase by around 100 posts. But above all, Olivier Becht reaffirms the government’s ambition to deploy France Consulaire, currently being tested in 13 countries, to all countries of the European Union initially and then to all States. Currently the phone response rate is 90% while the email response time is one hour (during business hours).

To streamline relations between consulates and their citizens, Olivier Becht wants to quickly extend the possibility of receiving identity documents by secure mail and of receiving digitally (while guaranteeing the value of the document) the acts that our compatriots abroad (birth certificate, marriage certificate, etc.).

“Our compatriots abroad have the right to the same quality of public service as any French in the territories”

Olivier Becht, Minister of French Abroad

Funding of the associative fabric

Second subject addressed in the podcast, the financing of associations via the Support system for the Associative Fabric of French people living abroad. On the eve of the opening of the 2023 campaign, we come back to the hiccups that have punctuated the application of this method of financing since its implementation in 2018.

Unsurprisingly, Olivier Becht can only observe the situation which he compares with those encountered in the French departments. Indeed, in France and abroad, a phenomenon of fundraising by parastatal structures has been observed. The reason ? The device is a “gas plant” that only the experts of the administration can control.

“When there is something that does not work, you should not refrain from modifying it.er »

Olivier Becht, Minister of French Abroad

The decision was therefore taken to set up a reflection group made up of members elected to the Assembly from abroad and representatives of the associations. The objective is to “introduce simplification” in order to facilitate a fair distribution.

“There are 2 million euros which are devoted to STAFE, we have every intention of maintaining them”

Olivier Becht, Minister of French Abroad

The budget will be maintained, but if the minister wants the changes to be taken into account this year, the regulatory provisions that must be taken seem to have to postpone the application of a reform to 2024.

Education : ” disparate situations depending on the country

Olivier Becht takes stock of the start of the school year, which has generally gone well, even if certain establishments, such as Haiti, remain closed. A return to school that still leaves many young French expatriates outside the French educational network due to prices that can be prohibitive.

As the Minister for French nationals abroad points out, reception costs and conditions are different from one country to another, with countries where tuition-related costs seem prohibitive, such as in the USA. To respond to these situations, Olivier Becht details the changes in the calculation of the method of awarding grants which should make it possible to broaden the base of eligible households. Thanks to the allocation of an additional half-share to single-parent families, the introduction of a 20% reduction on the main residence, as well as a 10% reduction on assets held within the framework of he retirement plan is a set that should increase the number of beneficiaries (currently just over 20,000) of the scholarship program with a budget of 100 million euros.

“The scholarship system remains accessible to the most modest people and the inflationary phenomenon should not be a reason not to enroll your child in a French school.ease »

Olivier Becht, Minister of French Abroad

The other theme linked to Education is the objective given by the President of the Republic to double the number of pupils by 2030. A promise that Olivier Becht takes up. For this, as indicated above, it will be necessary to help more French people but also to welcome more young non-French people. The Minister thus recalls the mission of transmitting our democratic and republican values ​​and of spreading the Francophonie in our establishments outside France.

To achieve this objective, Olivier Becht confirms the desire to develop the network by relying on private players through the approval of existing establishments and the creation of new ones.

“We are not going to create 500 establishments in direct management”

Olivier Becht, Minister of French Abroad

Whatever the status of the school, Olivier Becht reminds us that everyone has a quest for excellence in their mission. To support them, there are teachers seconded from France but there is also the possibility of recruiting locally. For this, under the impetus of the law carried by Senator Samantha Cazebonne, the Minister for French people living abroad is committed to the development of the 16 Regional Training Institutes (IFR) created in January 2022 for which everything remains to be done. .

“Our ambition is not to go low-coast with Education”

Olivier Becht, Minister of French Abroad

Made by France

Penultimate theme of our podcast, economic support for French people living abroad. If during the pandemic, some on the right wanted to open up the aid granted by the French State to national companies, to companies founded or controlled by French people abroad, Olivier Becht offers a long-term support system for expatriate entrepreneurs with the ” Made by France”.

This new proposal aims to promote the know-how acquired in France. Without supporting the delocalization or the departure abroad of our skills, the Minister of the French abroad wants to allow expatriates, if they wish, to make known the origin of their products or services.

Made by France will therefore complement Made in France”.

Olivier Becht, Minister of French Abroad

The implementation remains to be invented: label, approval, certification? Work with companies and Chambers of Commerce will be launched in the coming weeks. This system should be supplemented by a permanent fund with pre-established criteria, dedicated to VSEs/SMEs not linked by the capital to a French company, which may be requested as needed by French entrepreneurs. An idea that meets the expectations of French people living abroad.

Advisors for French nationals living abroad

If at times, Paris hears the French from abroad, it is also and above all thanks to the feedback from the local elected representatives of the French from abroad: the Councillors! Gathered in a Consular Council, they are however struggling to find a cruising speed in their operation with diplomatic posts and consulates.

A situation whose echoes have reached the windows of Matignon. Indeed, during the annual conference of ambassadors in Paris on September 01, 2022, Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne asked for the implementation of a new methodology giving greater attention to elected representatives of French people living abroad. A message for Olivier Becht which has been well received by the diplomatic corps and which he will hammer home during each of his trips outside France which promise to be numerous.

Listen to the podcast with Olivier Becht

Come and debate with your elected officials on Stereochic, the radio of French people around the world this Monday, September 12 at noon (CET) – available as a podcast a few hours later on Lesfrancais.press. Radio stream available at the top of all site pages

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Olivier Becht, the new Minister for French nationals abroad: his first interview