Europe 1 with AFP 20:44 p.m., September 01, 2023

An investigation was opened against several French consulates last May. According to the Quai d'Orsay, this is a "classic control" concerning public spending, the conclusions of which, however, will not be concluded until next year.

The Court of Auditors opened in May an investigation with French consulates, whose conclusions are not expected before 2024, AFP learned Friday, confirming information from the media La Lettre A. According to an article published at the end of August by the Letter A, a questionnaire was sent by the magistrates of the rue Cambon to 14 French consulates including those of London, Washington, Rome or Moscow. "This is a classic audit of the Court of Auditors, as part of its missions to control public spending," responded the Quai d'Orsay in a statement to AFP.

"It concerns the missions, the organization, the means, the questions of efficiency and effectiveness of the consular services provided to the French abroad," continued the ministry, adding that the organization would control in particular the offer of administrative services, the security of French nationals abroad and the reception of users. The Court of Auditors would seek in particular to inquire about "the deadlines for issuing identity papers and the evaluation of the quality of the services rendered" in these consulates, said Letter A.

>> READ ALSO - Consulting firms: the Court of Auditors pushes the State to clarify its strategy

"No publication planned before 2024"

It also "scrutinizes the expenses of consulates", she adds, before specifying that "the cost of the organization of elections as well as the subsidies granted to associations are in the sights" of the Court. "Particular attention is paid to social aid and school scholarships, but also to the means implemented to fight against possible fraud," continues Letter A. Questioned by AFP, the Court of Auditors confirmed that "an investigation of consulates has begun in May 2023". However, it did not detail its precise content.

In the event that this investigation leads to a report by the Court of Auditors, "no publication is envisaged before 2024," insists the same source. "At this stage, no conclusion can be drawn from this investigation, which is not completed or contradicted" by the consulates concerned, the Court concluded. The financial magistrates have already published in 2013 a report on "the evolution of the missions and organization of French consulates abroad".

Reducing the administrative burden

Among the 20 recommendations made at the time was the idea of "strengthening the rationalization of the consular network in countries where economic and security conditions are comparable to those of France, particularly in Europe", but also to reduce the administrative burden on consulates.

The Quai d'Orsay stressed that "during its previous audits, and in particular in its report on the evolution of the missions and organisation of French consulates in 2013, the Court stressed the very wide range of consular services offered to French nationals residing abroad, which is wider than that of countries with a comparable diplomatic network". "The dematerialization of certain procedures and internet voting, recommendations of the Court, have since been put in place" by the ministry, it adds.