FIGAROVOX / TRIBUNE – For Naïma M’Faddel, Les Républicain’s candidate to represent French foreigners in the Maghreb and West Africa, the tuition fees paid by Frenchmen abroad outside Europe are an unjustified breach of equal treatment.
Naïma M’Faddel was a member of the municipal council of Dreux, Trappes and Mantes-la-Jolie, then a solicitor in Valérie Pécresses’ office in the Ile-de-France region. She is a candidate under the banner Les Républicains for the parliamentary elections in the ninth constituency of French people living abroad. She co-published with Olivier Roy And all that should make excellent Frenchmen. Neighbor dialogue (edited by Seuil, 2017).
The wealthy, the privileged … This is how our foreigners are too often represented. However, this caricature and carved image of French people living abroad does not correspond to reality at all.
But regardless of their social category, their socio-economic situation has clearly deteriorated. While previous foreign contracts were very advantageous, which fueled the myth of the privileged expatriate, we see that they are less and less numerous. Today, many French people living abroad are employees who benefit from an employment contract governed by local law, which is less advantageous than foreign contracts, or are self-employed.
This feeling of being a second-class citizen, ignored by the French administration, the French abroad have unfortunately especially felt during the health crisis.
Out of sight, out of mind tells us the old popular saying that French people living abroad check every day. While spoiled by the French state in the 1960s and 1970s, they are today at best ignored, at worst surrendered to their fate, victims of a mixture of unfounded prejudices, budgetary constraints and revisions of the downturn in France. international ambitions. In fact, for ten years we have not stopped reducing the funds for our diplomacy, closing consulates, removing posts and resources at the consulates that remain. This feeling of being a second-class citizen, ignored by the French administration, the French abroad have unfortunately especially felt during the health crisis: serious problems with mobility, access to care and vaccines against Covid were their daily lives. However, the French abroad constitute a crucial relay for defending our country’s economic and cultural interests.
Gradually, our compatriots have been forgotten by the Republic, which continues to enumerate their difficulties, such as recognition of pension points acquired abroad, access to banking services, access to the provision of health care or care of people with disabilities, proper payment of old-age pension. The place of birth in France is considered a second home for tax purposes, despite their ties and their roots. What can be said about the tax injustice they have been victims of since 2012, when the Socialists had subjected all French residents living abroad to the CSG – CRDS, and when, judged by the European Court of Justice, they decided to maintain this contribution to European extras? Discriminatory taxation.
By denying French nationals living abroad the right to free access to education, the French state places itself in the greatest illegality.
This injustice also pertains to access to education, a sacred right guaranteed by our Constitution. As the Education Code reminds us,education is free for students in public and secondary schools offering secondary education, as well as for students in preparatory classes for Grandes Ecoles and higher education in secondary public educational institutions“. But our compatriots today have to spend a fortune sending their children to school in our establishments. By denying French nationals living abroad the right to free access to education, the French state places itself in the greatest illegality. .
Nicolas Sarkozy had introduced free education for French high school students initially with the idea of generalizing it to all schooling, but François Hollande gave in to the unfounded prejudice that foreigners would be wealthy, restored tuition fees and apparently discarded the idea of free. According to a report from the Senate, these costs have been steadily rising since 2012 to reach an average level of € 5,300 per year. child in 2017. Since 2017, the situation has continued to deteriorate and costs have increased further each year. These burdens are sometimes unbearable financially and especially morally for the French abroad, who all too often have the feeling of being second-class citizens, while the children who go to school on the national territory (even when they are not French) benefit free education. Faced with these exorbitant costs, many expatriate families have had to give up when they could to educate their children in the French system.
Jules Ferry’s school laws have been the cornerstones of our Republican ideal since the Constitution of 16. June, 1881.
Let us not forget that free education is a matter of basic principles. Jules Ferry’s school laws have been the cornerstones of our Republican ideal since the Constitution of 16. June 1881. However, in addition to the secular and obligatory nature, these laws provide free tuition. Establishing paid education therefore constitutes a terrible departure from and a serious abandonment of this Republican principle, which is nonetheless a fundamental principle.
The place where the education is held, here abroad, cannot constitute a valid factor justifying such discrimination between French nationals residing abroad and French nationals.
Nor does the violation of the principle of equality between French citizens correspond to any reason of general interest. This decision is motivated solely by the interest of the French State in saving public spending. But the French abroad do not have to bear the brunt of the bad leadership of their rulers. Especially when the Constitutional Council in its resolution of 9 April 1996 stipulated it “The principle of equality does not preclude the legislature from regulating different situations differently or derogating from equality in the public interest, provided that the resulting discrimination in one case or another is directly linked to the purpose of the law which lays it down; “.
Finally, the argument that foreigners are rich and have the financial means to secure their own destiny does not hold. First, because it overrides the principle of republican equality on which our school is based. In France, schooling is free for all children in the republic, rich and poor, regardless of their social status. Why in this case make foreigners pay more than those who have the funds and who live in the national territory to gain access to the school?
Above all, this argument does not (or no longer does) correspond to the sociological reality of foreigners. They are often in the worst possible situation: too well placed to qualify for scholarships, not good enough to be able to pay too high tuition fees without sacrificing themselves financially.
The argument that foreigners do not pay taxes in France does not hold either: many expatriates have savings or real estate in France from which they pay taxes.
For all these reasons, it seems to me essential, in the name of the basic principle of republican equality, to restore free education from 2022 for children of French people living abroad. It is also urgent to encourage the recruitment of French teachers to practice in these institutions and to place them under the joint supervision of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and National Education and no longer solely under the supervision of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Defending French establishments abroad is not an empty expense, it is an investment because they contribute to the influence of the French language and culture as well as to the political, economic and intellectual influence of France abroad. It is up to us to support francophony, to revive relations between Africa and France, so that France strengthens and enriches this affective, fraternal and unique relationship that we have with French-speaking Africa.