The Porte de Versailles exhibition center in Paris is empty on Tuesday, November 24. Like every year at that time, it should have been swarming with people at the opening of 103e congress of mayors of France, canceled due to epidemic. A decision qualified as“Historical” by François Baroin, the president of the Association of Mayors of France (AMF) and mayor (Les Républicains) of Troyes: only the two world wars had so far justified such a choice.
To honor this meeting despite everything, it is in the modern setting of a studio reserved for events that Mr. Baroin, surrounded by the Deputy Vice-President of the AMF, André Laignel, and his Secretary General, Philippe Laurent, as well as the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, held a press conference, a few hours before Emmanuel Macron’s televised address. Since the start of the five-year term, relations between local elected officials and the Head of State – who went to the Congress of Mayors twice, in 2017 and in 2019, and pledged to return there this year – were tumultuous to say the least: “Not terrible”, confesses Mr. Baroin.
The crises that have followed one another over the past two years, the exceptional scale of the health, economic, social and psychological explosion, which the country is facing due to the Covid-19 epidemic, call on all public authorities , State and communities, to form a common front, to work together. The arrival in Matignon, at the beginning of July, of the former mayor of Prades (Pyrénées-Orientales) Jean Castex, who had been the prime contractor for the first “territorialized” deconfinement, was supposed to fluidify relations between government, state administrations and local public authorities. The 100 billion euro stimulus plan, presented at the end of the summer, was to leave a large place for the “territorialization” of projects and credits, as an extension of the partnership agreement signed on September 28. , between the State and the regions.
“Outstretched hand will”
A new era in relations between the executive and local elected officials? This is not the case, according to the leaders of the AMF who, as on an air of the Poppys of the 1970s, ensure that “No, no, nothing has changed, everything, everything continued”. One after another, they have recounted the reproaches they level at a government “Deaf, blind and helpless”, a state “Failing which disintegrates”, who “Treats communities as subcontractors”, reduced their free administration to “Rags”, proceed to “An unprecedented recentralization”, let local finances deteriorate without doing anything …
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