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France consulaire, what result after more than a year of trials?

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“Schedule for Extending Deployment of Service Consular of France Initial objectives cannot be achieved and need to be clarified”: this is Report for comment Introduced on November 17, 2022 by Senators Bruno Sideau and Guillaume Gontard. She tabled the report on behalf of the Foreign Affairs, Defense and Armed Forces Committee as part of its scrutiny of the Finance Bill 2023 (PLF), which is still pending in Parliament.

A promising start for France Consulaire

This document devotes several pages to the Consulaire France, its trial Launched in October 2021 Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Europe (MEAE). The service should make it possible to respond to “all general requests for information, clarification or assistance in implementing a process with regard to services for French citizens living abroad”. Visa applications and personal files are still handled by consulates.

“The first year of the experiment of the French consular service was a success”, note the reporters. They recall that it was first deployed in “five pilot posts” (Croatia, Ireland, Denmark, Slovenia and Sweden) before being rolled out to eight other countries (Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Moldova, Norway, Czech Republic and Romania) in August. 31, 2022.

Example of Dublin

Parliamentarians take the example of the post Dublin – “It corresponds to the largest French community abroad in the five pilot stations” – from which an important demand arose: the Consular of France answered 75 calls from Ireland in the first week of commissioning , more than 17,000 in the first year of operation.

The transfer rate of calls to the consulate is “only 5%”, according to the senators, “the majority of users are looking for information of a general nature, which can be provided without involving the agents of the post” . “Indicators measured by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for Europe also show widespread user satisfaction, with satisfaction rates exceeding 90%,” the parliamentarians also note. They point out that some of them reported “inaccurate answers” from call center agents.

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Overly ambitious schedule

Despite these clear positive results, the report points out several limitations. First, the “ambitious” deployment schedule was not met, and at the time of launch, MEAE announced that it would “deploy the service in all countries of the European Union by the end of 2022.” According to the report, a “major obstacle” to continuing this deployment is the low number of ministry personnel “whose mission is to train and supervise telephone counselors employed by the service provider (See paragraph in italics below)”.

“Reporters will note the fact that the deployment of the service (…) has been accompanied by an adequate increase in ancillary resources, particularly in terms of employment. At present eight agents are assigned for the service. This number should reach fourteen in 2023, but this increase in authority “depends on an increase in the number of staff assigned to this task by the Management and Consular Administration of the French population abroad (DFAE). The senators also clarified that telephone advisors will be properly trained to provide accurate answers to consumers.

> In their report, the senators recall that France’s consular service intends to replace the telephone switchboards of some diplomatic posts. To support the Ministry’s agents in the management of this platform, the Quai d’Orsay uses two external service providers: “the Teletech International Company that manages the response platform and the Orange Company for the collection of telephone calls”. In 2022, 920,000 euros were earmarked for the operation of the Consulaire de France, and the new PLF provides 1.9 million euros in 2023, a “doubling”.

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