Geopolitics, dematerialization, teaching: Franck Riester’s first speech to the AFE

He promises to “do everything possible” to “make life easier” for French people abroad. Before the 90 AFE advisors gathered this Monday, March 18, 2024 for its fortieth plenary session, Franck Riester assures that he is a “pragmatic” man and available to “give concrete answers and without irony” to the representatives of the French. stranger people. In a world where wars and crises multiply, “it is more necessary than ever to be together”, insists the new Minister Delegate for the French Abroad, insisting on the listening that he wishes to provide to all AFE advisors.

Geopolitics came up several times during the morning as several advisors took advantage of the question-and-answer sequence to discuss the fate of Gazans or the situation in Niger. The minister, for his part, especially insists on the issue of the European elections of June 9, 2024, for which he invites AFE advisors to mobilize: “we need your help to disseminate the modalities on the right to vote (from the abroad)”, he explains, also inviting them to offer their help to manage the polling stations and to redouble their efforts to encourage French people abroad to express themselves during these elections. In 2019, only 18.36% of them participated in the elections (compared to 50.66% in France). To collect your votes, nearly 600 polling stations abroad will be opened this year in 382 different locations. “Consular visits will be organized so that the most isolated French abroad have the possibility of establishing power,” the minister delegate also indicates.

The dematerialization of public services as a priority

Regarding his roadmap and the way he wants to work with the AFE, Franck Riester explains that he is following in the footsteps of his predecessor Olivier Becht and continues, in particular, the work of dematerialization of the public service. This work aims to facilitate the lives of French people residing outside France who constitute for the State “a laboratory for the dematerialization of public service” to the extent that a certain number of devices are tested with them before becoming generalized in France.

Among the projects underway, he cites the remote creation of life certificates, mandatory for French people living abroad when they receive a French retirement pension, but also better authentication and security of voting online. “The generalization of French identity will worry French people abroad,” Franck Riester also adds. This application allows you to prove your identity in the case of online procedures. The minister also describes the deployment of the French Consulaire as a “success” and specifies that this telephone answering service, currently accessible from Europe, will be extended in the coming months to different African countries: Angola, Cameroon, Nigeria, Gabon and even Ghana. If this service “is not intended to operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week”, its hours will be expanded to cover a time slot that goes from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. (French time), compared to 9 a.m. 17 hours current. This extension is intended to take time differences into account.

The EFE network, “the most efficient soft power”

The “French teaching network abroad is one of the spearheads of the promotion of the French language,” recalls the Minister Delegate. Referring to the “Cap 2030” objective set by Emmanuel Macron in 2018 and which aims to reach the symbolic figure of 700,000 students in the network by 2030, Franck Riester explains that the idea “is not to double for the sake of doubling but rather to guarantee that tomorrow the French language has its place in exchanges (academic, economic, scientific, etc.). »

He also insists that this network constitutes the “most effective soft power”: today 70% of the students educated there are not French. “Tomorrow there will be links between France and the rest of the world. »To do this, he also wants to count on the alumni network when the EFE World Alumni Forum is organized from May 24 to 26, 2024 in Brussels. “There are thousands of alumni who can help us make France shine,” says Franck Riester.

Also in terms of education, the minister was questioned about the “degraded” financial situation of the French Secular Mission (MLF), an essential actor in the French educational network abroad. He explains that the ministry’s services collaborate closely with the AEFE and the MLF and declares himself in favor of initiating an audit of the current financial situation, an audit requested in particular by the deputy Stéphane Vojetta (5my constituency of French people established outside France).

Regarding other topics:

  • Fundamentals of social protection: Franck Riester says he is “in favor” of holding these meetings requested by the AFE advisors. “The exact framework of these discussions remains to be clarified. » ;
  • Situation of French businessmen abroad (EFE): While several parliamentarians are mobilized on the issue and a bill is currently being examined in the National Assembly after having been adopted last spring by the Senate, the Minister Delegate says he is convinced of the role of these EFE, “an essential belt for the economic development”. of our country “. He Now he asks to think about what can be implemented concretely so that they are better recognized, without specifying what he wants in this area;
  • Alternative residence (or origin): The Minister Delegate recalls that the Finance Law for 2024 (LFI) allows French people residing in a country in conflict to benefit from a reduction in their tax rate when they have residence in France and when they resettle there. He specifies that these conflict zones “are still to be defined” and that the creation of this alternative home/residence status raises constitutional (pre-tax equality) and budgetary issues that have not yet been resolved.

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