The reforms keep piling up yet the civil servants system remains rigid. Public employment has grown steadily in France and now accounts for 25% of total employment (20% for statutory employees). That’s almost twice the OECD average.
Inflation in the number of civil servants largely explains the continuous rise in public spending. Public sector wages (excluding retirement pensions) accounted for almost a quarter of public expenditure in 2013.
The same concern for efficiency and initiative that led to the creation of the civil service status play today in favour of its withdrawal. Thirty years later, there is little left of the original and very specific vision of civil service enshrined in the 1946 statute.
To modernise public service, let’s get rid of the general status of public servants
There is an urgent need to downsize the workforce and improve the management of human resources in the public service. Drawing inspiration from the Swiss model, we suggest to remove the so-called general status once and for all.
This would lead to the end of recruitment via competitive exams and favour more standard forms of hiring. It would also end the professional “corps” and replace them by more flexible professional channels.
The time to reform public service in France has come. It has been postponed for too long and can no longer be avoided.