Paris (AFP)

Emmanuel Macron will solemnly open on Tuesday afternoon the Congress of Mayors of France, in front of several thousand elected officials always raised despite the efforts of the executive to rewire the links to four months of municipal.

Foot change. In 2018, the head of state had skipped the rendezvous with the mayors Porte de Versailles in Paris, in a tense atmosphere with local elected officials.

Since then, the head of state has relied on the mayors during the Great National Debate to get out of the crisis of "yellow vests" and multiplies the signs towards elected officials, at the moment when the parliament examines a bill that is an answer to their expectations.

Emmanuel Macron kicked off the sequence on Monday night at the Elysee Palace, decorating four mayors of the Legion of Honor, including former PCF national secretary Robert Hue.

"Our Republic honors them together, what connects them is that each one of them is committed to a village, a city, a territory, for the general interest", affirmed the president, "always admiring of their commitment".

A respectful welcome will be reserved by the mayors to the head of state assures the president of the Association of Mayors of France (AMF), François Baroin (LR).

The two men spoke last week to prepare the opening of the 102nd Congress of the AMF, the last before the election in March and the end of the term of the mayors elected in 2014.

Emmanuel Macron wants to "find the dialogue of proximity that is the legacy of the great debate" and his speech will focus on "major issues" for act 2 of the quinquennium, says the presidency.

He is eagerly awaiting his intentions in terms of decentralization, before the new stage announced for 2020. An area where, according to the president of the AMF, "everything is to be written" between the state and the communities.

Wednesday evening, the head of state will receive, as last year, about 1,500 mayors at the Elysee and Prime Minister Edouard Philippe will intervene "on the operational side" Thursday at the end of the Congress.

- Friction points -

The change of tone between the mayors and the executive did not erase the grounds for dissatisfaction. Elected officials have still not digested the abolition of the housing tax, which they believe weakens the link between the municipality and citizens. A tax which the government assures however that the amount will be fully compensated.

Another point of friction: the distribution of powers - especially on water and sanitation - between municipalities and inter-municipalities in which many mayors feel dispossessed of their power.

"Sweet words have certainly been pronounced", but "the bottom remains the same", deplores the Secretary General of the AMF, Philippe Laurent (UDI), in a tribune appeared in Tuesday's Le Monde.

As the congress approached, the government defended its action for the territories. € 760 million has been invested since 2018 in "Action Coeur de Ville" to revitalize the town centers, says the Minister of Cohesion of the Territories, Jacqueline Gourault.

460 "Maisons France services", bringing together administrations (Poste, allocations ...), must also be labeled in early 2020, to reduce inequalities between territories.

During the congress of mayors, the National Assembly will examine until Friday, the bill "Commitment and proximity" to facilitate the lives of elected officials.

"I saw everyone upstream, I do everything to build this text in the most pragmatic and republican way," said the Minister responsible for Communities, Sebastien Lecornu, who defends the text.

The project is a concrete response to the expectations of mayors expressed during the Great Debate, especially those of rural communities.

But Senate Speaker Gerard Larcher has raised the pressure by declaring Monday that "there will be no agreement" in Parliament "without evolution on several hard points", after the Law Commission of the Assembly overturned the version adopted at first reading in the Senate.

© 2019 AFP