Hopes for Breton reunification as France suggests territorial reform

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Hopes for Breton reunification as France suggests territorial reform

A French Government commission has recommended that Loire-Atlantique county should be joined with Brittany.

A French Government commission to simplify France's territorial structure has recommended that Loire-Atlantique county should be joined with Brittany.

The report, made public on March 5th 2009, is a draft proposal for France's biggest administrative shake up since the Second World War.

In 1941, France's Vichy regime split Brittany in two and separated the Breton capital Nantes and its Loire-Atlantique county from the rest of Brittany.

For the first time a French President has acknowledged publicly the possibility of Loire-Atlantique rejoining Brittany in the short term.

The news was unveiled as the governmental Commission for Territorial Reform (Comité pour la Réforme des Collectivités Locales) presented its draft proposal to reform France’s complex administrative system.

France is the most bureaucratic country in Europe with 36,783 local councils (communes), 4,000 districts (cantons), 100 counties (départements), 22 metropolitan regions (régions), and a heavily centralised government in Paris costing the tax payer billions of Euros.

In September 2008, French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced: "The time has come to address the issue of the many layers of local government, for their overlapping responsibilities are a source of inefficiency and very high costs."

Former French Prime Minister Édouard Balladur was put in charge of the governmental Commission looking into slashing France's infamous administrative bureaucracy.

His conclusions, known as "The Balladur Report", suggested a cut back on local government by merging some of France's regions and reducing their number from 25 to 15.

Initially, Mr Balladur's draft report recommended that Loire-Atlantique county should merge with Brittany.

However, Mayor of Nantes and one of the French Parti Socialiste's main leaders, Jean-Marc Ayrault, who strongly opposes a merger with Brittany, ordered the Committee's two socialist officials to omit the Breton reunification proposal on the final report.

Many in the Parti Socialiste consider the reform to be part of a strategy to undermine socialist influence in counties where they have large majorities.

However, commenting on the prospect of reunification, the president of the Breton regional government Jean-Yves Le Drian told that "everything is quite clear for us" and reminded that Région Bretagne voted in 2004 for a merger with Loire-Atlantique.

Polls conducted in Loire-Atlantique in the past also showed a majority of votes in favour of reunification with Brittany.

Due to the current lack of consensus with the opposition, President Sarkozy has temporarily put the reform on hold while promising more debate until a draft law is presented to the French Parliament in mid-2009.

Read more about France's proposed Territorial Reform at:
» Comité pour la réforme des collectivités locales


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