On March 15, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Catherine Colonna will receive the report of the National Roundtable on Diplomacy committee, whose rapporteur-general is Ambassador Jérôme Bonnafont. The day after the report is delivered, the President of France will go to the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs where he will present the conclusions that he would like for us to collectively take away from this exercise, as well as his vision for restructuring French diplomacy in order to meet today’s challenges.
The National Roundtable on Diplomacy, which was launched by the Minister in October 2022, at the request of the President of France, constitutes an unprecedented exercise in the history of the Ministry. Its goal has been to formulate operational recommendations on changes to our diplomatic apparatus by means of a large-scale, systematic, in-depth consultation process involving all Ministry staff members, no matter their status, in addition to numerous leading figures from outside the Ministry.
Working together with Ambassador Bonnafont, a team of roughly 15 led discussions in three working groups dedicated to defining (1) what it means to serve as a diplomat in the context of a world undergoing profound changes; (2) the conditions for the execution of our missions, evolution of our careers, and retention of high-level skills in support of French foreign policy, and (3) the role of the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs as it spearheads France’s external action on behalf of its ministries and serves as the primary contact for non-governmental partners.
Drawing inspiration from participants’ comments, in addition to their 1,000 some proposals, the report offers an overview of the current situation, as well as recommendations for the organizational structure, methods, budgetary and human resources, and career paths of the diplomatic service. In keeping with the guidance given by the Minister, the report suggests ways to dramatically transform our diplomatic apparatus in support of France’s foreign policy and the French people.