PNO : Press release
Devolution : hardly a radical reform
French president, François Hollande has just put forward proposals to reform devolution. A bill to that effect will be brought before the Senate early next year.
Admittedly, French regions will be responsible for employment, training, supporting small and medium-sized firms and managing European structural funds but social policy will remain the prerogative of “départements” (counties), a useless administrative level the Occitan Nation Party has proposed to shed for a long time.
Energy transition would be shared between the State and the groupings of municipalities, no justification being offered for the absence of regions.
A law-adapting power, even if it is limited, granted to local and regional authorities is a positive development but it would be even better for them to have a true legislative power, i.e the power to propose and vote laws.
As regards tax reform, provision is indeed made for a degree of autonomy in tax matters for the benefit of local and regional authorities without reducing the control exerted by the central State for all that. As for the Occitan Nation Party, it wishes that regions should be allowed to raise taxes locally as is the case in Spain’s autonomous Basque country and to pay back a negotiated share to the central State.
Besides, the Occitan Nation Party deplores the fact that the president did not raise the issue of language democracy in France, which is linked with devolution. It won’t be enough for France to ratify the European Charter for regional and minority languages. Regions whose original languages are different from French should have more competences in the fields of language, culture (publishing, entertainment, broadcasting and media) and education. They will be able to carry out bold language policies for the promotion of their languages only insofar as they influence the content of the curriculum and introduce generalized bilingualism, like in Corsica, as well as the teaching of subjects in the regional language.
This should be done through close cooperation between regions sharing the same language, it being understood that such cooperation should not be limited to language and culture issues. It could lead to a grouping of regions without ruling out redrawing the map of some regions for example to create a Catalan region in Roussillon, a Basque region in the “department” of Pyrénées atlantiques and cross-border institutions where they are justified by linguistic and cultural closeness.
Without assuming too much about the president’s intentions, as long as a bill is not voted into law, it is clear for the Occitan Nation Party that François Hollande’s proposals hardly challenge the French centralized model, which is very far from home rule and federalism as practiced by some of our European neighbours.
We’ll keep a vigilant eye when the bill is examined by the Senate.
October 24th, 2012
Occitan Nation Party
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PNO : Press release