French diplomats went on strike on Thursday to protest the policies of President Emmanuel Macron’s government.
They accuse the government of insufficiently recognizing the importance of their work and unjustly cutting back on the diplomatic service, thereby also damaging France’s reputation in the world.
It is the first French diplomat strike in 20 years. France has one of the most extensive diplomatic services in the world, with 1,800 diplomats and 13,500 officials in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs working for the service.
French governments have been trying to get rid of the expensive service for years. Since 2007 there has been a significant cut in expenditure and the workforce has shrunk by a fifth as a result. According to the striking diplomats, there are now far too few staff and they are poorly paid.
To ‘make matters worse’, the current government wants to go one step further. She wants to abolish the diplomatic service as of 1 January 2023 and merge it into a larger administrative entity. The special status of diplomats will then be abolished and officials from all parts of the state can represent the country as diplomatic assistants.
The former diplomats will soon also be able to be called in as civil servants in France and end up ‘everywhere’, for example as civil servants in a ministry that does not focus on Foreign Affairs or in positions in the departments.