Q - Is it true, as the Journal du Dimanche reported yesterday, that the Quai d’Orsay is about to buy a building for €83 million in Paris and a 1,250-square-meter palace for 13 people in Edinburgh?
A - Since 2006, the Ministry’s building projects have been financed exclusively by proceeds from the sale of properties abroad. These sales have also helped reduce government debt by €207 million from 2014 to 2017. It is in this context that Ministry of Foreign Affairs has developed a particularly rigorous property management system.
In this regard, we have no plans to purchase an additional building in Paris for the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs. On the contrary, for the past 10 years, it has been our steadfast policy to focus personnel at two Paris sites – the Quai d’Orsay and La Convention – a sound management measure. To that end, the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs decided in 2015 to free up space it occupies on the Ilot Saint-Germain and rue Oudinot and to return the relevant personnel to the Quai d’Orsay. Obviously, work will be necessary to increase the density of the Quai d’Orsay site, and an additional building will be constructed to accomodate an added 300 workers.
As for the Edinburgh site, this is not a matter of “buying a palace for 13 people” but of relocating the Consulate General and the Institut Français in the same building, at a total cost of €4 million. Of the 1,250 square meters included in this project, 152 square meters are taken up by office space; the rest is devoted to welcoming the public and teaching French. The purchase and renovation work were financed exclusively by proceeds from the sale (€5 million) of three antiquated, oversized buildings owned by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs in Edinburgh. The net profit came to a million euros.
Generally speaking, the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs fully contributes to reducing public spending. Its budget comes to less than 1% of the State budget, and the total number of its employees (in France and abroad) is 13,550. The Ministry has reduced its workforce by 17% over the past 10 years (2007-2017).