Sort by *
These summaries are intended to facilitate the understanding
and use of the report produced by the Cour des comptes.
Only the original report is legally binding on the Cour des
The responses of the administrations and government authorities
concerned appear after the report.
The order of the summaries corresponds to the order of the
chapters of the report.
Made public for the first time in 1832, the annual report of the Cour des
comptes is the principal means for telling the general public about the work
of the Cour des comptes and of the regional and territorial chambers of
accounts, and about the lessons to be learned from this work. The 2016 version
of the annual public report provides examples of reforms that are or should
be carried out in various sectors of public management, while highlighting
shortcomings in the way they are controlled and their results.
2016 annual public report
is made up of two volumes:
volume I
presents the observations and recommendations from a selection
of audits and surveys conducted in 2015 by the Cour des comptes and the
regional and territorial chambers of accounts;
volume II
presents the organisation and missions of the Cour des comptes
and the regional and territorial chambers of accounts, as well as the results of
their action and particularly the follow-up actions taken by the administrations,
government authorities, and other supervised bodies in response to the obser-
vations and recommendations made in previous years.
The annual report of the Court of Financial Discipline (CDBF) is appended to
these two volumes.
This booklet presents the summaries of the observations contained in volume I.
These 18 texts are grouped by theme:
- part 1:
public finances
- part 2:
public policies
- part 3:
public management
Summaries of the Cour des comptes 2016 Annual Public Report
Summaries of the Cour des comptes 2016 Annual Public Report
Part 1 - Public finances
The overall situation of public finances (at the end of January 2016) . . .9
Part 2 - Public policies
Chapter I - Employment and Solidarity
The generation contract: why it has been a failure
. . . . . . . . . . . .17
The Solidarity Fund: an operator to be closed down
. . . . . . . . . . . . . .19
Chapter II - Energy and Sustainable Development
Maintenance of nuclear power plants: an updated policy,
uncertainties to be clarified
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23
Eco-organisations: an original system to be consolidated
. . . . . .26
Chapter III - Territories
The fishing sector in Saint Pierre and Miquelon: an uncertain future .
Connections to the main Ponant Islands: a challenge for the
Bretagne region
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .35
“Carcassonne Agglo”: the example of an unfinished
inter-communal structure
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .37
The school system in French Polynesia and New Caledonia:
a major public effort, efficiency to be improved
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .39
Summaries of the Cour des comptes 2016 Annual Public Report
Part 3 - Public management
Chapter I - Implementation of sovereign policies
Legality review and budget control: a place to be found
in the new organisation of the State
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .47
Labour inspectorate: a necessary modernisation
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .51
Chapter II - Management of public companies and agencies
Postal workers faced with the challenge of declining mail: changes
to be accelerated
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .57
The Transdev-Veolia Transport merger: an ill-conceived transaction with
major losses to date for the Caisse des Depots et Consignations
. . . . . .61
National theatres: scenes of excellence, weakened institutions
. . .65
The fight against fraud in urban transport in the Greater Paris
region: a collective failure
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .69
Chapter III - Project management
The French horse and riding institute: an improperly conducted
reform, a phase-out to be scheduled
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .75
Reorganisation of public higher education in agriculture: a
deceiving reform
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .78
The Terra Botanica botanical park: a costly initiative in search of
financial sustainability
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .81
Part 1
Public finances
The overall situation of public finances
(at the end of January 2016)
The overall situation
of public finances
(at the end of January 2016)
Summaries of the Cour des comptes 2016 Annual Public Report
In 2015, a moderate reduction
in the headline and structural
According to the forecasts of the 2016
budget act, the General governement
is expected to decrease by
0.1% of GDP in relation to 2014 to
reach 3.8% of GDP. This moderate
reduction is expected to come from a
significant decline in expenditure
relative to GDP ( 0.5 points) and a
parallel decline in public revenues
( 0.4 points), related in particular to
the measures taken to reduce the
taxes weighing on companies (tax
employment, and accountability pact).
In 2016, a more ambitious deficit
reduction goal, but significant
risks on expenditure
In 2016, the Government expects the
headline and structural deficits to
decrease by 0.5% of GDP, to 3.3% and
1.2% of GDP respectively.
Achieving this goal appears to be
possible. However, revenue forecasts
are a bit high, and there is a real risk
of overshoot on the expenditure side.
The revenue forecasts are based on
assumptions of inflation and payroll
increases that seem high, as deemed
by the High Council of public finances
in its opinion of 25 September 2015.
OECD, and the INSEE now expect
lower inflation and payroll growth
levels, therefore posing a risk on the
expected revenues from VAT and
social contributions.
Real risks of overspending weigh on
the State’s expenditure and on certain
social expenditure items.
Overspending under the State budget
appears likely on some expenditure
items for which the credits provided
for in the initial budget act are inade-
quate each year (external operations,
emergency accommodations, etc.). In
addition, the employment and training
plan announced in January 2016 has
no identified credit to date, whereas
its cost for the State is estimated at
€1bn by the Government.
The General governement accounts for 2015 will be not published by the INSEE until the end
of March 2016.
The overall situation of public finances
(at the end of January 2016)
Summaries of the Cour des comptes 2016 Annual Public Report
Change in the balance of General governement (in GDP percentage points)
Cour des comptes according to Insee data until 2014, Government forecasts
in 2015 and 2016
Public debt (in GDP percentage points)
Source: Cour des comptes according to Insee data until 2014, Government forecasts in
2015 and 2016
The overall situation of public finances
(at the end of January 2016)
Summaries of the Cour des comptes 2016 Annual Public Report
Meeting the State’s expenditure target
in value will therefore again require
particularly rigorous management of
credits throughout 2016 and mobili-
sation of the precautionary reserve.
The target for social expenditure
growth will also be difficult to reach:
even if the ONDAM is achieved, part of
the expected savings in supplementary
pension schemes and unemployment
insurance (€1.8bn in total) may not be
realised in 2016.
Like every year, the General governe-
ment’s interest expenditures could be
less than the Government’s forecast
and partly make up for the risk of
overrun on other expenditure.
Continue to reduce
the structural deficit
by acting on expenditure
In 2016, public deficit will exceed 3%
of GDP and the public debt will be
close to 100% of GDP. Reducing the
deficits and the level of public debt
will be vital to helping France keep
control of its fiscal policy and weather
macroeconomic shocks and interest
rate hikes.
To be sustainable, the reduction in
public deficits must focus as much
on the structural deficit as on the
headline deficit. In a period of economic
recovery, the headline deficit can be
improved through a short-term, and
therefore temporary, boost in public
revenues. In the past, episodes of growth
recovery have led to complacency in the
control of expenditure. The objectives
for reducing the structural deficit, which
are at the heart of France’s European
Given the high level of public spending
and the margins that exist to improve
its efficiency, deficit reduction must be
based on controlling expenditure. New
expenditure items, such as those
considered necessary with regard to
security and defence against terrorism,
will therefore need to be funded by
reducing expenditure items that have
not been deemed effective.
Part 2
Public policies
Chapter I
Employment and solidarity
The generation contract: why it has been a failure
The Solidarity Fund: an operator of the State to be eliminated
Summaries of the Cour des comptes 2016 Annual Public Report
The generation contract:
why it has been a failure
Although it constitutes one of the key
features of the employment policy
created in the past few years, the
generation contract, instituted by the
act of 1 March 2013 on the basis of a
national interprofessional agreement
unanimously signed by labour and
management, is currently a failure.
A quantitative failure given
the number of contracts signed
of July
40,300 contracts had been signed,
whereas more than 220,000 were
expected by this date to achieve the
goal of 500,000 contracts by 2017. In
addition, two-thirds of the young
signers were already present in the
companies involved, meaning that the
plan has had only a negligible effect
on unemployment.
A consequence of this quantitative
failure is that the generation contract
is less costly than expected: while the
Government had planned to spend
€975m in 2014 and each year thereafter,
only a quarter of this sum (€255m)
has actually been committed, where
the 2015 budget act revised the cost
of the plan down to €480m per year
once it is up and running.
A hybrid mechanism
misunderstood by companies
The design and the conditions for
implementation of the generation
contract explain this failure.
In principle, the generation contract
aimed to simultaneously promote
recruiting young people for permanent
contracts, keeping seniors employed,
and transferring skills. On this basis, the
Government made the choice to
entrust the labour and management
with devising the plan, which ultima-
tely took the form not of an assisted
contract, but a hybrid instrument
combining an obligation to negotiate
to avoid penalties (for companies
with more than 50 employees) and
financial aid reserved for the smaller
300 employees and not affiliated
with a group).
Although the eligibility criteria of
companies were fixed in a restrictive
manner, they remained flexible to the
young recruits by not focusing on
their level of qualification or their
degree of employability.
If it is decided to maintain it, tho-
roughly redefine the generation
regards the penalty related to the
obligation to negotiate a collective
agreement and the criterion of not
belonging to a group.
The generation contract: why it has been a failure
Disappointing collective
A year after the act of 1 March 2013,
although the seven-month period
allotted for collective bargaining was
far in the past, 50% of the workforces
of companies or groups with more
than 300 employees and 60% of the
workforces of companies with 50 to
300 employees were not covered by a
text relating to the generation contract.
From this point of view, the threat of a
penalty of up to 1% of the payroll in the
absence of negotiation has proved to
be ineffective and virtually unapplied
by the administration despite obvious
Moreover, the content of these
agreements has been disappointing.
Their quantified objectives are never
binding and are most often based on
hiring forecasts at constant staffing
levels, and some branches have even
integrated job cuts into their goals.
In addition, the agreements have
often abandoned the principle of an
effective partnership between a
young person and a senior person to
favour a statistical matching without
real professional ties.
A plan already adjusted without
becoming more attractive
With its lack of attractiveness becoming
more and more obvious, the generation
contract already underwent three
successive amendments in 2014 and
2015 in order to exempt companies
with between 50 and 300 employees
from prior negotiation, raise the
maximum age of young beneficiaries
in case of company takeover or
continuity between apprenticeship
and generation contract, and double
the financial aid when a company
recruits a young people and a senior
person at the same time. However,
these adjustments have not sped up
the signing of new contracts.
Given these findings, the Cour des
comptes considers it essential to
wonder about the possible evolution
of the generation contract.
If the public authorities intend to keep
it beyond the duration of the collective
agreements already signed and the
aid granted, it should be thoroughly
revised by considerably simplifying or
even abandoning the obligations of
prior negotiation and by relaxing the
eligibility criteria for financial aid.
Without such a revision, it would be
vain to expect stronger mobilisation
of companies, and it would then be
necessary to consider the termination
of the generation contract in favour of
more effective plans.
Summaries of the Cour des comptes 2016 Annual Public Report
Summaries of the Cour des comptes 2016 Annual Public Report
The Solidarity Fund:
an operator to be closed down
The Solidarity Fund is a public
agency, an operator of the State. It
was created in 1982 to collect the
1% solidarity contribution levied on
the wages of civil servants and public
officials in the purpose of funding
the national solidarity scheme for
unemployed workers ineligible for
unemployment insurance. This primarily
involves the specific solidarity allocation
(ASS) and the retirement equivalent
allowance (AER).
In 2014, the Solidarity Fund managed
a budget of €2.7bn.
A financing scheme far from
the balance initially expected
The financing, initially ensured only
by the solidarity contribution,
is today very largely supported
by the State’s budget.
Because the revenues from the collec-
tion of the 1% solidarity contribution
proved insufficient during the 1990s
to cover the financing requirements of
the solidarity scheme, since then, the
State contributed each year an average
of 46% of the Fund’s revenues over the
2006-2014 period.
Various measures or practices
have reduced the visibility
of the initial scheme
Various legislative provisions have
successively allocated then taken
away new revenues for the agency
and have led to an increase in the
agency was used for the management of
certain operations outside its purpose.
Almost non-existent autonomy
A board of directors without real power
In reality, the board takes decisions solely
about the agency’s own operation,
i.e., 0.5% of its budget, in particular
because of the tax nature of its own
revenues and the absence of margin
for manoeuvre on its expenditure
items, which are directly related to
the allocations used by Pôle Emploi
(French employment and unemploy-
ment agency).
An authorising officer without control
over the execution of expenditure
The authorising officer lacks the
powers of control fundamentally
associated with this function, having
never been made responsible for the
department’s control on allocations
financed by the agency, which represent
99.5% of the Fund’s expenditure.
immediately initiate the closure of
the agency and the transfer of its
recovery mission to a collection
network, such as that of the DGFiP
or the ACOSS;
Clarify quickly the calculation
basis of the solidarity contribution
approach (employment and labour,
public service, budget), identify all
organisations employing staff who
may be subject to the solidarity
contribution, and make the use of
telepayment mandatory for all liable
administrations and bodies.
The Solidarity Fund: an operator to be closed down
Major deficiencies
in the collection task
No identification of employers
in charge of the contribution
The collection of the solidarity
contribution is based on a purely
Solidarity Fund has no identification of
employers in charge of the deduction.
Uneven application
of the regulations
The texts defining the base of the
solidarity contribution are interpreted
differently according to the adminis-
trations, which results in unequal
treatment of public officials who owe
the tax and leads to a substantial
shortfall for the State.
Inadequate means of control
The Solidarity Fund, unlike large
collection networks, is unable to
monitor recovery on all taxpayers.
Partial modernisation
of recovery
implemented in 2006 to improve
collection conditions, has not yet
been applied on a large scale
because of insufficient support from
the supervisory authorities.
Insufficient effectiveness
justifying the transfer
of the Fund’s missions
The Solidarity Fund does not have
the means to effectively monitor the
recovery of the solidarity contribution.
influence has not allowed it to obtain
uniform application of the texts
defining its calculation basis by the
The transfer of its missions to a
recovery network, such as that of
the DGFiP or the ACOSS, would
help to streamline the landscape of
operators of the social ministries
and would improve recovery.
Summaries of the Cour des comptes 2016 Annual Public Report
Chapter II
Energy and sustainable development
Maintenance of nuclear power plants: an updated policy,
uncertainties to be clarified
Eco-organisations: an original system to be consolidated
Source : Cour des comptes
* 2014 forecast.
Change in maintenance capital expenditure of nuclear power plants
(in current €M)
Summaries of the Cour des comptes 2016 Annual Public Report
The 58 nuclear reactors operated by
EDF in France undergo maintenance
operations to replace or renovate
equipment and maintain facilities in
order to supply electricity under
peremptory norms.
EDF upgraded its maintenance
nuclear power stations posted poor
performance indicators (technical
capacity to produce electricity, nuclear
safety, “metal time”2), but they have
recovered since 2011, particularly
because of a significant investment
Nevertheless, they must be constantly
monitored by EDF.
Maintenance of nuclear power
plants: an updated policy,
uncertainties to be clarified
“Metal time” is an indicator internal to EDF representing the degree of organisation of
maintenance operations during a reactor shutdown.
Maintenance of nuclear power plants:
an updated policy, uncertainties
to be clarified
EDF has taken measures
to improve the maintenance
of the power plants
In 2011, EDF launched the “Grand
Carénage” programme covering all
maintenance operations for its current
nuclear power plants. Its objective is to
permit their operation with the best
efficiency, if possible beyond 40 years,
the length of time for which the plants
were originally designed.
EDF also revised its internal organisation,
the procedure for reactor shutdowns,
and the management of its equipment
and spare parts.
Controlling the conditions
of outsourcing must remain
a priority for EDF
EDF outsources 80% of maintenance
operations to external service providers
under controlled competition and
transparency rules. Considering the
available indicators and the checks
performed by independent bodies
such as the Nuclear Safety Authority
and the Inspector General for Nuclear
Safety And Radiation Protection, the
conditions that do not jeopardise
their safety but require ongoing
attention by EDF.
Securing the production
of electricity requires an ambitious
maintenance programme
The implementation of the EDF’s
maintenance programme could reach
€100bn (in 2013 figures) between
2014 and 2030, i.e., €1.7bn (in 2013
figures) on average per reactor. This
figure includes investments and
The project should have only a limited
impact on the cost of production of
nuclear electricity, unlike changes
in production whose effects are
potentially greater. In fact, the 50%
result in an increase of less than 5%
in the cost of production, whereas a
50% decrease in average production
would double this cost.
EDF’s maintenance programme
is subject to high uncertainty
The nuclear sector’s hiring requirement
is estimated at 110,000 direct and
indirect jobs by 20203. It faces tensions
on certain industrial segments (welding,
piping, etc.) and strategic uncertainties
that do not encourage companies to
invest and hire. Despite initiatives by EDF,
public authorities, and stakeholders in
the nuclear sector (information, creating
loyalty of industrial partnerships),
their mobilisation remains insufficient,
particularly with regard to vocational
dependent on the development of
safety requirements. The resulting
uncertainties could alter the project’s
timetable and its technical options,
with a potential effect of €5.11bn (in
2013 figures) at minimum on its cost.
Summaries of the Cour des comptes 2016 Annual Public Report
Including in order to meet the group’s needs in its new national and export projects.
Maintenance of nuclear power plants:
an updated policy, uncertainties
to be clarified
Summaries of the Cour des comptes 2016 Annual Public Report
incorporate a significant level of
uncertainty, estimated at €13.30bn
(2013 figures) between 2014 and
2030. However, the inadequacy of
EDF’s cost assessment model does
not make it possible to validate this
Lastly, the application of the recent law
on the energy transition for green
growth dated August 2015 should
lead EDF to throughly revise its
maintenance programme. Notably, the
statutory cap on installed power of
63.2 GW could involve the shutdown
of the two Fessenheim reactors, while
the objective of reducing nuclear
power’s share of national electricity
production to 50% by 2025, could
lead to the closure of 17 to 20 other
reactors. No assessment has been
conducted yet by the State or by
EDF on the potential economic
consequences of the application of
the new law. Yet, several billion euros
per year are at stake. Thus, starting
in 2025, EDF’s annual revenue losses
could amount to €5.7bn, whereas its
running costs would be reduced only
by €3.9bn. The amount of investments
could decrease up to €1.5bn per year,
and EDF’s assets could be reduced by
the value of the closed production
assets (between €1.7bn and €2bn
(in 2013 figures) per year).
These assessments does not take
into account the effects of closures
on the cost of energy, with impacts
on employment and growth, or any
compensation or indemnities that
EDF could obtain from the State not
yet valued.
The implications of the act on the
energy transition for green growth
will need to be specifically identified
and assessed in the multiyear energy
forecast (MEF) currently being defined
under the responsibility of the State so
that EDF can incorporate its guidelines
into the “maintenance” component of
its strategic plan, provided for in the
identify in the study of the
impact of the MEF, provided for in
the law on the energy transition for
green growth, its industrial and
on the
in view of the development of
EDF’s strategic plan, decided as part
of the MEF, update the assessments
of maintenance operations taking
into account the uncertainties and
contingencies associated with them;
because of the difficulties expected
with regard to recruitment and
training, intensify the mobilisation
of industry players, public and private,
aimed at addressing shortages of
skills identified in the context of the
“Grand Carénage”.
Eco-organisations have emerged
relatively recently in waste manage-
ment. They are private structures to
which producers delegate all or part
of their responsibility for managing
waste resulting from the end of life
of products that they have placed on
the market, in application of the
“extended producer responsibility”
(or EPR) principle. The Cour des
comptes audited fourteen of them
representing an overall financial
budget of €1.2bn in 2013.
The role of eco-organisations:
significant resources,
a mixed picture
Although collection and treatment
rates have increased overall since the
establishment of extended producer
responsibility sectors, the results tend
to peak and are uneven depending on
the sectors, for various reasons
(overly ambitious goals, sometimes only
partially covered by eco-organisations,
lack of sanctions imposed by the public
authorities when they are not met,
under-utilisation of resources, and
mainly difficulty in changing consumer
habits with respect to sorting).
Beyond waste management, the
prevention of its production as well
as the eco-design of products must
be a growing concern for both pro-
ducers and consumers. Two main
levers are used: the modulation of
the contribution paid by producers
to eco-organisations (eco-contribution),
on the basis of ecological criteria
according to the bonus/penalty principle,
However, the results remain very
limited in most sectors.
The regularity of the management as
well as the good financial health of
the eco-organisations must not hide
the efforts that they must still
accomplish, especially since they are
funded by eco-contributions ultimately
paid by consumers. In particular, some
of them should control their personnel
costs as well as the amount of their
provisions or cash.
Necessary changes
In order to develop sorting habits,
progress in communication must be
made by both eco-organisations and
local authorities. In particular, this
means updating the sorting instructions
an original system
to be consolidated
Summaries of the Cour des comptes 2016 Annual Public Report
Summaries of the Cour des comptes 2016 Annual Public Report
Les éco-organismes : un dispositif original
à consolider
that they distribute, making the payment
of the financial support they collect
subject to this prerequisite. However,
the main challenge is to clarify the
messages conveyed by the various
pictograms on products that are part
of an extended producer responsibi-
lity sector by affixing clear sorting ins-
tructions for the end-consumer uni-
form across all products and packa-
ging. This should be accompanied by
communication actions common to
the various sectors, especially in urban
areas, and assume that the promotion
of sorting is preferred to the promo-
tion of the eco-organisations them-
In addition, the transparency of costs
must be increased, whether it be
those incurred by local authorities in
terms of selective collection of house-
hold waste or treatment costs of
structures that recycle or recover it.
Similarly, cost control requires choices
on the organisation of collection and
sorting. Several factors contribute to
The abundance of messages on products
Eco-organisations: an original system
to be consolidated
higher costs of collection and treatment
of household waste: door-to-door
collection at the expense of voluntary
contributions, the number, the size,
and the operating model of sorting
centres. In addition to the streamlining
and modernisation of sorting centres,
other avenues could be explored
(concerning, for example, management
by certain eco-organisations of certain
sorting operations currently the
responsibility of the local authorities).
Lastly, the State must strengthen its
role as regulator. The consultation
structures put in place must be
simplified and oriented towards the
overall effectiveness of the sectors.
Greater formalisation of the process
of development of specifications as
well as increased professionalisation
of the approval procedure should
permit better access for all potential
eco-organisations to approval.
Summaries of the Cour des comptes 2016 Annual Public Report
To the State and eco-organisations:
continue and develop, for all
interested sectors, the approach
involving affixing a sorting instruction
make the payment of financial
authorities subject to the updating
of sorting instructions;
make the eco-contribution visible
methods to be defined jointly by
authorities, and those who place
products on the market.
To the State:
put in place a legal and contractual
framework promoting the transfer
and the publication of data on the
collection and treatment of waste from
an EPR sector whilst guaranteeing
the confidentiality of commercial
authorities to modernise the sorting
centres and reduce their number.
Chapter III
The fishing sector in Saint Pierre and Miquelon:
an uncertain future
Connections to the main Ponant Islands: a challenge for
the Bretagne region
“Carcassonne Agglo”: the example of an unfinished
inter-communal structure
The school system in French Polynesia and New Caledonia:
a major public effort, efficiency to be improved
Saint Pierre and Miquelon, a French
territory located in the North Atlantic,
is located 25 kilometres south of the
Canadian island of Newfoundland and
has 5,478 inhabitants.
Recurring failures of public
support for the fishing sector
in Saint Pierre and Miquelon
Although fishing sector constituted
the cornerstone of the local economy
until the 1980s, since it generated
400 jobs related to port activity at the
time, it has suffered a profound crisis
since then that has changed the entire
economic and social balance of the
In 1992, following a 20-year dispute
between Canada and France, the
arbitration court in New York gave a
first blow to the fishing industry,
reducing the French exclusive economic
zone (EEZ) to a maritime corridor a few
nautical miles wide and 200 nautical
miles long.
The effects of this decision have
been compounded by the five-year
moratorium on cod fishing introduced
by Canada. The offshore fishing sector
has been almost totally destroyed,
and small-scale fishing is slowly
dying out.
This situation has led the State and
become heavily involved in the economic
Miquelon and particularly the fishing
sector. Nevertheless, the conversion of
the sector has proved to be very difficult,
if not impossible. Several companies
have successively filed for bankruptcy.
The latest, the Canadian company SPM
widely supported by public financing,
ceased its activity in spring 2011.
Two reports of the territorial chamber
Miquelon, pertaining two local mixed
economy companies, SIFPA (investment
company of the fishing sector of the
archipelago) in Saint-Pierre and SODEM
(economic development corporation
of Miquelon) in Miquelon-Langlade,
pointed out the rapid deterioration of
the situation of the fishing sector and
the absence, in the short term, of a
lasting revitalisation solution.
This work highlighted anomalies and
deficiencies in the direction of these
two companies that have led SPM
Seafoods International, a shareholder
of SIFPA, to operate a processing
plant without legal title and deviating
from compliance with the rules
relating to facilities classified for
the protection of the environment.
The fishing sector
in Saint Pierre and Miquelon:
an uncertain future
Summaries of the Cour des comptes 2016 Annual Public Report
The fishing sector in Saint Pierre and Miquelon:
an uncertain future
Source: website of the commune of Miquelon-Langlade
Map of fishing areas around Saint Pierre and Miquelon
The territorial chamber of accounts
also identified serious deficiencies of
the local stakeholders in the controls
of the material reality of investments
that needed to be made and that were
funded for more than €3m by subsidies
from the local authority and the State.
Lastly, it denounced the conditions
under which the territorial community
bought out the vast majority of the
International group for a highly
overestimated amount.
In the end, this public financing was
incurred in vain, the Saint-Pierre
factory is now abandoned, SPM
Seafoods International having been
placed in liquidation in May 2011,
and the factory’s industrial facilities
were dismantled in 2012.
At the same time, in Miquelon-Langlade,
corporation of Miquelon), created in
1993 with the mission of contributing
to the tourist, industrial, commercial,
and economic development of the
commune of Miquelon-Langlade, was
never able to develop sufficient
activity to ensure the coverage of
its expenditures. The company was
therefore in a de facto state of
insolvency at the end of financial year
2012. It is now forced to sell its assets.
Summaries of the Cour des comptes 2016 Annual Public Report
The uncertain outlook
for the restructuring
of the fishing sector
in Saint Pierre and Miquelon
Even so, prospects for economic
development still exist for the fishing
sector in Saint Pierre and Miquelon.
resources, in volume and quality,
including some with high commercial
However, today they
under-exploited in the light of the
available quotas. Thus, from 2010 to
2015, the tonnages caught never
exceeded 3,300 tonnes per year,
while the authorised quotas were
The fishing sector in Saint Pierre and Miquelon:
an uncertain future
Summaries of the Cour des comptes 2016 Annual Public Report
7,600 tonnes. At the same time, there is
a growing market for aquatic products.
This restructuring must essentially rely
on the adaptation and diversification of
small-scale fishing activities, subject
however to a better organisation of
fishermen and small producers and a
number of essential basic investments.
As a corollary, the development of
aquaculture, and particularly scallop
farming, would provide complementary
contributions with high added value.
The restructuring of industrial fishing
undertaken with the support of the
public authorities seems more difficult
to carry out.
Total products fished relative to the authorised quotas in tonnes
Source: Cour des comptes according to data from the prefecture of Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon
As part of the 2015-2018 territorial
development contract, the State
provided for the continuation of the
modernisation of the single plant
still in operation, located at Miquelon,
the purchase of a new 28-metre
fishing vessel, and, in general, new
investments. However, the inadequacy
of industrial equipment of this proces-
sing site, as well as its geographical
location, considerably limit the possi-
bilities of development of its production.
To date, the State has failed to find a
shipping company likely to engage in the
development of offshore fishing in the
The fishing sector in Saint Pierre and Miquelon:
an uncertain future
Summaries of the Cour des comptes 2016 Annual Public Report
In any case, the success of these
projects requires the involvement
of local stakeholders, many of
whom appear to be demobilised, as
the private initiatives are rare, or even
non-existent. It will also most likely
require the commitment of external
partners with the technical expertise
and the financial capacity necessary
for processing and marketing of fishery
products in economically satisfactory
Support the restructuring of the
fishing industry in Saint Pierre and
Miquelon, subject to real involvement
of reliable private partners.
Connections to the main Ponant
Islands: a challenge
for the Bretagne region
Summaries of the Cour des comptes 2016 Annual Public Report
The départements have authority until
31 December 2016 with regard to
public regular maritime transport of
people and goods to the islands, and
this authority will be transferred to the
regions from 1 January 2017 pursuant
to the law of 7 August 2015 on the new
territorial organisation of the Republic.
Exercising this authority has led the
government authority to determine
the public service obligations of the
connections between the islands and
the continent in order to compensate
for the difficulties related to insularity.
These transport flows of passengers
(two million per year, including one-
quarter residents) and goods are
of obvious importance for the
départements of Finistère and
Morbihan. The Cour des comptes
has audited these départements,
which own the equipment that they
make available to private operators,
public service delegates. The Cour des
comptes highlighted failed strategic
management, whereas the financial
balance of operators is not ensured.
The Breton islands of Ponant
Source: Cour des comptes according to the Ponant islands association
The two départements are insufficiently
aware of the costs and data of activities
relating to this public service. The
annual costs incurred by the départe-
ments include the contribution paid
to the operators and disbursements
that they directly cover (employee
pay, maintenance, etc.). According to
comptes, the government authority’s
annually for Finistère and €4.5m for
Morbihan. These disbursements are
difficult to read in the budget documents
because they are not individualised in
a single specific budget. The overall
cost of the service, which also includes
the disbursements incurred by the
operators, amounts to €25m annually
for Morbihan and €15m for Finistère.
In addition, the départements do not
have all of the strategic data to fully
assess the effectiveness of the service
rendered, whether its quality, the
filling rate of ships with private
vehicles and heavy goods vehicles,
or the freight costs.
The accounts of the operators present
recurring deficits due to a lower number
of visits than their forecasts. Despite
the aid paid by the départements, the
operator’s annual average deficit
amounts to €1m for Morbihan, i.e.,
approximately 5% of its turnover, and
€0.6m for Finistère, i.e., 17% of the
annual turnover of the delegation. The
pricing policy, set by the départements
on a proposal of the delegates, is not
only unclear, because it is made up of
an excessive number of prices (200 for
Morbihan at the time of the audit),
but also because, in certain cases, it is
irregular in the light of the principle
of equality of users of a public service.
The transfer of authority to the region
constitutes an opportunity for strategic
straighten out the financial position
and put an end to the disparities noted
between the two services, which do not
make it possible to reach the common
goals of the two départements, ensure
the right to transport of the islanders,
and boost the local economy. These
disparities especially concern the aid
policy, which is based primarily on
the taxpayer for Finistère and on
Morbihan, the pricing policy, which
creates many exceptions and lost
revenue, and the adaptation of the
equipment to the requirements of
the activity.
Connections to the main Ponant Islands:
a challenge for the Bretagne region
Summaries of the Cour des comptes 2016 Annual Public Report
To the départements of Finistère and
Morbihan and the region of Brittany
as from 1 January 2017:
improve the information given by
the delegates on the operation of
the service and define additional
perfect knowledge of the overall
costs and track them in a special
adapt the pricing to the principles of
equal treatment of users identified by
the case-law;
objectivise the provided public aid
particularly by individualising the
transported freight cost;
initiate global thinking about
the service, relating in particular
to the principles of financing by
the organising authority and the
composition of the fleets.
“Carcassonne Agglo”: the example
of an unfinished inter-communal
Summaries of the Cour des comptes 2016 Annual Public Report
The “Carcassonne Agglo” conurbation
(73 communes, 105,000 inhabitants),
created on 14 December 2001 and
whose scope expanded continuously
until 2013, provides an example of an
unfinished inter-communal structure
that struggles to build a project that
could be understood across its territory.
In that respect, this public inter-communal
illustrates the persistent failures of the
already highlighted in previous reports
of the Cour des comptes (2005, 2009).
A conurbation in search
of its stability
The conurbation has failed to clearly
define its powers, which is an essential
prerequisite to the implementation of
structuring actions within a growing
territory. There has been little specifi-
cation of the powers made mandatory
by law, particularly with regard to
economic action, whereas the EPCI
has been much more enterprising to
develop powers chosen optionally
(social action and cultural policy). The
concept of Community interest has
expansion of the geographical scope
of the conurbation makes all the
more necessary the development of a
territory project giving consistency to
the inter-communal structure and
ensuring a real integration of member
The extension of the conurbation since 2001
Source: Cour des comptes according to Insee - IGN 2014
To “Carcassonne Agglo”:
redefine the priority actions of
the conurbation, in connection with
its core competencies;
strengthen the control on the
subsidies granted to third-party
reinforce the pooling actions
social action inter-communal centre
(CIAS), and the communes;
contain staff expenditures and
revisit the benefits granted without
any legal or regulatory basis.
Powers incompletely assumed
In its current state, “Carcassonne Agglo”
is struggling to actually exercise its
powers. The EPCI’s is akin to a transfer
budget, with a significant share of its
resources being repaid to bodies that
assume certain powers in its place (in
the fields of social action and household
without sufficiently asserted control.
The interventions of “Carcassonne
Agglo” in the economic field remain
limited, while the socio-economic
characteristics of those living there
are unfavourable. The investment
policy especially favoured a power
chosen optionally (culture, with the
construction of a music conservatory),
and the financial fragility of the
government authority no longer allows
it to support a large-scale investment
Costly administrative
“Carcassonne Agglo” thus suffers from
costly administrative management.
The staff doubled between 2007 and
2014. However, the management of
staff appears deficient in several
respects. The legal duration of working
time is not respected, recourse to
overtime is excessive, and absenteeism
remains high. All these problems have
a significant cost for the government
authority. The growth of the conurbation
has also caused an increase in the
cost of governance and general
expenditures. Pooling efforts between
the conurbation and the member
communes have remained very limited
and should be intensified as part of a
pooling scheme adopted in December
The recommendations made by the
Cour des comptes in 2005 and 2009
therefore remain relevant for this
conurbation, in terms of clarity of the
powers exercised, rigour in the use of
action to the service of the territory.
“Carcassonne Agglo”:
the example of an unfinished inter-communal
Summaries of the Cour des comptes 2016 Annual Public Report
School systems facing
significant challenges
French Polynesia (270,500 inhabitants)
and New Caledonia (268,767 inhabitants)
collectivities with
common characteristics: more than
15,000 kilometres from mainland
France4, location in the South Pacific,
a highly diverse population and, in
part, isolated. On the institutional
level, they have a broad set of powers
transferred under the general principles
set by the Constitution.
They are thus the only two collectivities
of the Republic that have a transferred
power with respect to schooling,
with the notable exception of the
management of seconded State officials
and higher education. This transfer was
gradual: in French Polynesia in 1957
for primary education and 1987-88 for
colleges and high schools; in New
Caledonia in 1957 for public primary
education and 2012 for private primary
education and secondary education.
The effort is significant: the amount of
public spending devoted today to the
school system in these two territories is
greater than €1.3bn, including €954m
in State appropriations. In 2014, school
spending per pupil was €8,223 in
French Polynesia and €10,539 in New
Caledonia versus €7,700 in 2013 (last
known figure) for mainland France and
the overseas departments
Although the results obtained by
these school systems have made
much progress, they remain lower
than those of mainland France. Given
the demographic outlook oriented
downwards, the challenge is to improve
the efficiency of these systems.
The school system in French
Polynesia and New Caledonia:
a major public effort, efficiency
to be improved
Summaries of the Cour des comptes 2016 Annual Public Report
Paris is 15,714 km from Papeete and 16,742 km from Nouméa.
For French Polynesia and New Caledonia, these data do not include disbursements of private
players (households, companies), which are not available, unlike mainland France and the overseas
Distribution of institutions in French Polynesia
Source : Cour des comptes
Distribution of students in New Caledonia
Source : Cour des comptes
The school system in French Polynesia
and New Caledonia: a major public effort,
efficiency to be improved
Summaries of the Cour des comptes 2016 Annual Public Report
Governance to be simplified
The process of transferring a large
part of the academic powers to the
territories has resulted in a jumble of
highly complex texts, undoubtedly
difficult to avoid, which affects the
clarity of the action taken. The
necessary statistical tools are very
imperfect, because the collection of
data is hampered by the heterogeneity
of information systems.
although different in each territory, gives
rise to difficulties. The management of
seconded staff is the responsibility of
State’s services (vice-chancellorship)
and the services of the territory should
be reviewed, exploring all possible
rational mergers. In New Caledonia, the
vice-chancellorship, which has become
the sole joint service for transferred
and non-transferred skills, does not
incorporate public primary education.
A greater pooling of services would be
Financing methods
with little consistency
In French Polynesia, the overall allocation
for compensation provided by the law
is not yet applied. In New Caledonia,
the State pays several compensation
allocations, each with different indicators
to set their annual growth. The criteria
for setting the job cap are not precise and
transparent. Changes in remuneration
are sometimes poorly controlled, as the
State might be led to fund decisions that
it did not originate.
In French Polynesia, the delay in the
scheduling of constructing, renovating,
considerable. In both territories,
there is not always a multiyear
school investment plan.
An assessment to be conducted:
adaptation to the specific
characteristics of the territories
Certain specific characteristics of
these territories, particularly the low
population density in certain regions
and the use of a local language, in
addition to French, are structuring
factors for the school system (for
example: dense network of small
schools and colleges, transport, boarding
schools). In this context, the scope and
the effectiveness of the adaptations
implemented in the two territories
deserve to be measured on the basis a
complete assessment, carried out on a
The school system in French Polynesia
and New Caledonia: a major public effort,
efficiency to be improved
Summaries of the Cour des comptes 2016 Annual Public Report
The school system in French Polynesia
and New Caledonia: a major public effort,
efficiency to be improved
Summaries of the Cour des comptes 2016 Annual Public Report
To the State and the two collectivities:
between the State’s decentralised
services and the services of each
systematically put in place a
multiyear school investment plan;
perform an evaluative assessment,
on a partnership and multidisciplinary
basis, of the pedagogical and
organisational adaptations already
To the State and French Polynesia:
put in place, starting in 2017, a global
compensation allocation, excluding
appropriations for remuneration of
To the State:
explicitly establish rules for setting
job caps.
Part III
Public management
Chapter I
of sovereign policies
Legality review and budget control: a place to be found in
the new organisation of the State
Labour inspectorate: a necessary modernisation
Legality review and budget
control: a place to be found
in the new organisation
of the State
control performed by the State’s
representative on acts of the territorial
constitute a constitutional mission.
Despite a reform at the end of the
2000s, the controls performed by the
prefectures appear limited. This mission,
which pertains to institutional balances
resulting from decentralisation, must
be modernised.
Limited controls
A reduction of the scope
of controlled acts
The legality review potentially pertains
to several million acts. Similarly, the
budget control is characterised by a
large mass of documents to be
checked (450,000 per year). In order to
refocus the legality review on the most
significant acts, the law reduced the
scope of acts subject to the obligation
of transmission to the State’s repre-
sentative. In addition, each prefecture
must establish an annual control
strategy on the basis of national priorities
supplemented by local priorities.
However, many priority acts are not
controlled particularly because of the
option left to prefectures to adjust the
number of priority acts to be controlled
to the resources that they have. The
concept of controlled act is not
identical depending on the prefectures.
Some have put in place less rigorous
controls mainly concerning respect for
the external legality of acts. Others have
maintained a thorough control on a
smaller number of acts.
Insufficient efficiency gains
The legality review has been centralised
in the prefecture, with the sub-prefec-
tures maintaining a function of recei-
ving and selecting the acts of their
arrondissement as well as an advisory
activities with local elected officials.
Yet, this centralisation is incomplete
and sometimes ineffective locally.
In order to strengthen the expertise
capacity of the prefectural services,
cooperation and pooling between the
State’s decentralised services have
remain limited to certain areas or certain
Similarly, the dematerialisation of the
transmission of certain acts has not
yielded the expected benefits because
of the partial deployment of computer
applications and the inadequacy of
their features.
Summaries of the Cour des comptes 2016 Annual Public Report
Change in staff assigned
to legality review in full-time equivalent
worked (FTEW)
Source: Cour des comptes according to data
from the French ministry of the interior
Legality review and budget control:
a place to be found in the new organisation
of the State
Legality review rates (2011-2014)
Weakened human resources
The reform of legality review and budget
control has resulted in part from the
general review of public policies (RGPP),
reductions of staff. Between 2009 and
2014, across the départements of
mainland France, the staff of the
assigned to legality reviews have
decreased by 30%, and those assigned
to budget control have decreased by
34.5%. The previously accumulated
expertise has been partly lost. Most of
the training offered to control officers
is not suited to their needs.
Summaries of the Cour des comptes 2016 Annual Public Report
Source: Cour des comptes according to data from the French ministry of the interior
Advice that sometimes substitutes
for controls
The prefects have broad discretionary
power over how to proceed following
the legality review. Pushed too far,
contribute to the weakening of the
effectiveness of controls. They are
also prevalent in matters of budget
control, although the prefect does not
such latitude in this area.
A modernisation to be carried out
Adapting the controls to territorial
reform issues
The reorganisation of the State’s
services following the territorial
reform and, in particular, the establish-
ment of “large regions” makes the
completion of the centralisation of
controls in the prefecture essential in
order to promote the streamlining of
how acts are treated, the optimisation
of the activity, and the strengthening of
the expertise capacity of the services.
The development of pooling in all
its forms appears essential, as the
establishment within each prefecture
of services with the ability to handle
the most complex acts in isolation is
illusory. The legality review should be
able to receive the support of specialised
centres of competence in a regional
Strengthening them appears to be
essential, particularly in high-stakes,
high-risk fields.
Refocusing control on high-stakes acts
and high-risk situations
The definition of national priorities
can only be encouraged. Yet, the goal
of concentration of control actions on
a limited number of high-stakes acts
has not been achieved so far. It is
important that the State put in place
monitoring of the implementation of
national priorities and that they be
defined on the basis of a risk analysis.
The targeting of acts controlled in
respect of the legality review should
also take into account the assessment
of budgetary risks associated with
certain operations.
Legality review and budget control:
a place to be found in the new organisation
of the State
Summaries of the Cour des comptes 2016 Annual Public Report
Legality review and budget control:
a place to be found in the new organisation
of the State
Summaries of the Cour des comptes 2016 Annual Public Report
with regard to legality review,
ensure monitoring of the imple-
mentation of national and local
priorities and target the acts
with the most significant legal or
economic stakes on the basis of
a risk analysis and exploitation of
the results of the controls;
complete the centralisation of
controls in the prefecture and
develop pooling in order to esta-
blish centres of expertise operating
in a network;
generalise and formalise the
partnerships, particularly in the
light of the distribution of control
tasks, for urban planning acts with
the departmental directorates of
the territories and the sea and, for
departmental directorates of public
rebalance the legality review and
budget control staff of the prefectures
on the basis of activity indicators;
adapt the training of officers
responsible for legality review and
budget control and increase, at
constant payroll budget, the share
of the category A officers;
develop existing IT applications in a
way that they allow the performance,
control actions, both for legality
review and budget control.
In 2014, the Cour des comptes carried
out an investigation on the labour
inspectorate and the reorganisations
that it has undergone since 2006, with
the central services of the ministry of
labour and in five regions: Alsace,
Brittany, Île-de-France, Lorraine, and
Rhône-Alpes. At the end of its
investigation, the Cour des comptes
considers that thorough changes in
the labour inspectorate are necessary
and that its reform, deferred for too
long, must now be carried out.
Fixed organisation
and operation
Whereas in most European countries,
there are several labour inspectorate
services, specialised by professional
branches or according to rules that
they are responsible for enforcing, the
French model is that of a generalist
inspectorate for all the entire scope of
labour relations and employees of the
employees in 1.8 million establishments.
In addition to its control tasks, it gives
prior authorisation in several areas:
dismissals of protected employees
(25,000 decisions per year), exemptions
for work prohibited to minors (6,500),
employment contracts, which are
subject to approval (320,000). It has a
public advisory role (more than 800,000
telephone or direct contacts per year).
Lastly, it intervenes in collective
labour relations, playing a role of
prevention, conciliation, or even
mediation in collective disputes.
The labour inspectorate is traditionally
organised into sections (790 in 2014),
each with jurisdiction over a given
territory. In principle, each section
had four officers: a labour inspector
controllers (category B civil servant), and
an assistant (category C). A customary
rule was that the inspectors would
check companies with more than
50 employees, whereas the controllers
would check smaller companies. This
organisation and this division of
labour, which lasted until 2015, were
clearly too rigid. This organisation
favoured a dispersion of efforts and
excessive autonomy in the activity of
the sections and control officers,
which was further strenghthened by
the statutory independance that the
International labour Organisation
(ILO) recognises for labour inspectors.
Labour inspectorate:
a necessary modernisation
Summaries of the Cour des comptes 2016 Annual Public Report
Labour inspectorate:
a necessary modernisation
The organisation and the professional
practices of the labour inspectorate
were to be adapted to changes in the
labour market, the complexity and
multiplicity of labour law standards,
and the sophistication and the
internationalisation of fraud tech-
niques. A tighter organisation and
more collective working methods,
which permit specialisation of tasks, an
analysis of risks, a definition of national
and regional control priorities, a
concentration of controls, and a better
measure of their effect, had become
A reform to be continued
To that end, several reforms of the
labour inspectorate have succeeded
each other over 10 years: from 2006
to 2010, the labour inspectorate
modernisation plan (PMDIT), comple-
ted in 2008 through the takeover of
agriculture and transport inspections,
led to a significant increase in staff; in
2013, a process to merge the bodies
of controllers and labour inspectors
was implemented over five years; lastly,
in 2014, the territorial organisation was
modified with the creation of control
units substituting for the sections.
The labour inspectorate’s staff, currently
consisting of 2,500 control officers,
increased by 1,110 officers from 2006
to 2010, 57% of which were jobs
transferred from the ministries of
agriculture and transport, and 43%
were created jobs. This effort was not
preceded by an objective measurement
of needs, if not by reference to general
standards such as those of the ILO,
which recommends 10,000 employees
per control officer, which was largely
satisfied, with 6,563 employees per
control officer in 2010.
Summaries of the Cour des comptes 2016 Annual Public Report
Impact of the PMDIT and the merger
on the control staff
of the labour inspectorate
The merger resulted in the establish-
ment of sections predominantly geared
transport, with rail, air, and maritime
transport controls being allotted to
specialised sections. This organisation
resulted in a significant decline in the
number of controls in the areas of
agriculture and road transport. The
productivity gains expected from the
merger are not reflected in activity
In 2013, a job transformation plan was
launched. It should be completed in
2017. The controllers, after a competitive
examination, undergo six months of
training, at the end of which they
become labour inspectors. This reform,
which must decompartmentalise the
tasks between inspectors and controllers
in order to end up with a versatile single
body, is not without impact on the
operation of the network: allowing
250 controllers per year to undergo
training for six months requires
replacing them temporarily, which is
not without difficulties.
Lastly, in 2014, a new territorial
includes 240 “control units”, which
Source: Cour des comptes according to data
from the French ministry of labour, employ-
ment, and social dialogue and the reform
assessment presented to the joint technical
committee meeting of 28 June 2011
will become the main framework for
performance of the missions of the
labour inspectorate, one control unit
per region specialised in the fight
against illegal work, and a national
unit in connection with the other
European inspectorates.
This reform puts an end to an organi-
sation in sections that was no longer
relevant. It allows innovative practices
to be extended: specialisation of
controls or risks, determination of
assessment of risks, local deployment
of national control objectives, or the
conduct of coordinated control
“500 chantiers” operation, which
targets the main building and public
national territory.
However, the reform of measurement
and management instruments still needs
to be supported. Today, the activity and
performance measurement tools need
to be reworked. After its ramp-up from
2005 to 2010, the operation of the
activity input software Cap-Sitère was
hampered by union calls to refuse to
give it any information, a movement
that subsequently expanded to a
boycott of professional appraisal
This situation, which is not acceptable,
continues to compromise the moni-
toring of the activities of the labour
inspectorate and prevents France
from fully meeting its obligation to
report to the ILO on its activity.
Beyond this problem, all of the
labour inspectorate’s activity and
performance indicators must be
rethought in order to give them
meaning that they lack today.
The human resources management
modes of the labour inspectorate
must also change in order to better
translate into reality the priority to
control functions, as well as the
specialisation of skills, which is
likely to grow as part of the new
Labour inspectorate:
a necessary modernisation
Summaries of the Cour des comptes 2016 Annual Public Report
complete the territorial reorgani-
sation of the labour inspectorate by
making the audit units an effective
framework for scheduling audits,
monitoring activity, and evaluation;
define the control priorities on
the basis of an analysis of risks, at all
levels of the labour inspectorate;
give priority to the control function
in the human resources management
of the labour inspectorate;
put in place indicators accurately
measuring the activity and the
results of the labour inspectorate in
programme 111 – “Improvement of
quality of employment and labour
Chapter II
Management of companies
and public agencies
Postal workers faced with the challenge of declining post:
changes to be accelerated
The Transdev-Veolia Transport merger: an ill-conceived
transaction with major losses to date for the Caisse des
Depots et Consignations
National theatres: scenes of excellence, weakened institutions
The fight against fraud in urban transport in the Greater
Paris region: a collective failure
A profession full of particular
characteristics and traditions
Each day, 73,000 La Poste postal
workers distribute mail and objects
to 37.8 million mailboxes. Their
56,000 rounds are perceived as an
important form of presence of the
public service, especially in rural
areas. They alone represent 28% of the
company’s workforce and constitute a
vital part of an activity, the post, which
represents 40% of the group’s turnover.
While mail volumes have dropped
sharply for several years, the costs of
distribution by postal workers (who
represent 60% of the total postal
costs and €4.1bn), are fixed for the
volumes, the rounds must be carried
out in full. Although the number of
postal workers has decreased over the
past few years – from 84,000 in 2009 to
73,000 in 2013 – the decline has slowed
down since 2011 and is now less than
Change in mail volumes and staff
Postal workers faced with
the challenge of declining post:
changes to be accelerated
Summaries of the Cour des comptes 2016 Annual Public Report
Source: Cour des comptes according to data from the French Telecommunications and Posts
Regulator (ARCEP) and La Poste
Postal workers faced with the challenge
of declining post: changes to be accelerated
Consequently, in order to avoid an
overly large increase in unit costs and
despite some peculiarities of the
postman profession that can slow
down their achievement, La Poste must
give itself ambitious objectives for
reducing the overall cost of distribution.
Postal workers enjoy a degree of
autonomy during their round. It is
therefore difficult, despite detailed
knowledge of the characteristics of
each round, to ensure that the time
actually worked corresponds to the
theoretical schedules. Especially in a
period of declining volumes, situations
of under-occupation can occur, which
are not always measured by La Poste.
The strenuousness and dangerousness
of the profession are causes contributing
to a worrisome rate of absenteeism. La
Poste has failed to reduce it.
Lastly, the “sale” of rounds, a system of
assignment that deprives management
of its power to assign and ensures that
the postal workers will be able to work
in an identical zone, may prove to be
inadequate in a context that will
increasingly require adapting the
organisations and work schedules to
the needs of clients.
Productivity and quality efforts
that must be intensified
The workplaces that the postal workers
go to each morning are not post
offices, but “distribution platforms”,
These establishments coexist with the
networks for distribution of printed
advertising materials and express
parcels, without the search for
synergies with them being clearly
The major investments made to
automate sorting, thanks to which
some of the mail arrives to the postal
workers arranged “in bag order”, have
Nevertheless, there are still margins
for further leverage.
The organisation of work in teams
and replacements between postal
workers, introduced by the “Facteurs
d’avenir” plan, have increased the
capacity for adaptation of the distri-
bution establishments to daily and
seasonal changes in volumes of mail
to be distributed.
The establishments have a greater
degree of autonomy to organise the
work, particularly by rearranging the
rounds to adapt them to changes in
volumes. La Poste has set the rule of
a minimum interval of two years
While mail volumes are declining, this
duration should be a maximum in order
to avoid deteriorating productivity.
Moreover, “Factéo”, the smartphone that
postal workers now have, is a source for
saved time and service quality. By
making a postman a carrier and a
collector of data, new commercial
services for businesses and individuals
will be able to be created.
Summaries of the Cour des comptes 2016 Annual Public Report
Lastly, especially in rural areas, better
accessibility of mailboxes for mailmen
would limit the distribution time and
the risks of an accident, but certain
necessary measures involve amending
the regulations in force.
The ample “quality approach” conducted
by La Poste has boosted distribution
times. Nevertheless, service quality
remains dependent on the involvement
of postal workers in the field. It must
make further progress, particularly by
reducing the excessively high proportion
of objects not distributed to be picked
up at the post office. In this regard, La
Poste’s inability to use the Internet and
mobile phones to notify its customers
of recommended letters appears to be
a glaring shortcoming.
A weakened economic model,
a change to be organised
In order to make up of the decline in
the postal activity, La Poste’s strategic
plan expects an increase in the parcel
activity, which is not ensured in a
highly competitive context, as well as
the development of “new postman
services”, the turnover from which
currently remains marginal despite
the abundance of experiences.
This plan also provides for an increase
in rates, but this lever, already heavily
mobilised, could reach its limits by
accelerating the
volumes. La Poste also intends to
continue the productivity efforts,
which will involve much more mobility
and retraining of postal workers. This
prospect requires transforming their
career model.
These efforts alone will not be sufficient
to make up for the effects of the decline
in mail. It is the definition of the public
postal service itself that must change.
For that purpose, La Poste will need
public authorities and citizens by its
Referred to as the “universal service”
by the European directives, the postal
distribution public service, for the
service provider, relies on compliance
with regard to offers, time limits, and
geographic and temporal accessibility.
It was designed in France ambitiously,
at a time of growth or stability of
volumes, while digital exchanges were
Like other countries, the time limits
and methods of distribution as well
as the services that are included
must change in order to ensure the
sustainability of the distribution
activity. The universal postal service,
of which the postal workers constitute
a pillar, concerns all French people: a
public debate on its necessary changes
must be prepared and initiated.
Postal workers faced with the challenge
of declining post: changes to be accelerated
Summaries of the Cour des comptes 2016 Annual Public Report
Postal workers faced with the challenge
of declining post: changes to be accelerated
Summaries of the Cour des comptes 2016 Annual Public Report
set a goal of reducing the overall
cost of distribution as part of the
strategy plan;
take advantage of the producti-
vity gains associated with the
mechanisation of sorting to reduce
the time spent by postal workers on
“internal work”;
take measures to facilitate postal
worker access to the mailboxes of
collect information to notify
recipients of upcoming distribution
of registered letters or tracked
objects and give them the choice
of delivery methods;
develop quantified scenarios of
the content and cost of the universal
postal service and present them
for discussion, both between the
with the users.
The Cour des comptes audited the
participation of the Caisse des dépôts
et consignations (CDC) in Transdev, a
passenger transport company of which
it was the majority shareholder until
2011 and that was equally merged
with Veolia Transport, a division of
Veolia Environnement, to form the
Veolia-Transdev group. Four years after
this operation, the Cour des comptes
has established an initial assessment
as well as the following lessons.
The Transdev-Veolia Transport
merger: an ill-conceived
transaction with major losses
to date for the Caisse des Depots
et Consignations
Summaries of the Cour des comptes 2016 Annual Public Report
Situation in July 2009 (before merger) and situation after the merger
Source : Cour des comptes
The merger resulted
from a hasty decision
and was improperly conducted
The CDC, which wanted to put an
end to the RATP’s minority stake in
Transdev and link its subsidiary
with a new partner, initiated bilateral
discussions in 2009 with Veolia
Environnement, of which it was also
absence of a competitive procedure
addressed the issue of the RATP’s
exit from Transdev’s capital. The
The Transdev-Veolia Transport merger:
an ill-conceived transaction with major losses
to date for the Caisse des Depots et Consignations
choice to merge with Veolia Transport
rather than with Keolis, a subsidiary of
the SNCF, which had also expressed its
interest, was confirmed very quickly,
although the supervisory commission
of the CDC and the minister of the
economy, industry, and employment
had come down in favour of a longer
period of consideration.
Because of this haste, the conditions
for the project’s success were not
sufficiently studied.
The difficulties posed by models and
corporate cultures distant that were
quite different and by the low level of
support from customers and the teams
as well as the stability of the partner’s
In addition, the initial commercial and
financial ambitions were very optimistic.
Lastly, the presence of the SNCM, a
66% subsidiary of Veolia Transport,
within the scope of the new group was
underestimated during the initial
review of the project in 2009.
The merger was not prepared satisfac-
torily despite a period of nearly two
years between the decision in principle
and the completion of the transaction.
The shareholders were unable to
agree in due time on the operational
aspects and called the key points into
question at the last minute: the
balance of powers, the choice of top
The actual completion of the merger
was not consistent with the initial
agreement between the two partners
or the original ambitions.
The CDC had to agree to support a
prior capital increase of Transdev of
€200m and grant to the RATP, in
exchange for its exit from the capital,
quality assets from the Transdev
The IPO, briefly considered, was not
carried out.
Only nine months after the merger, in
December 2011, Veolia Environment
announced its decision to withdraw
from the field of transport and sell its
interest in Veolia-Transdev.
In this context, the CDC was forced to
Veolia-Transdev’s capital, contrary to
its initial plans. However, to date,
this change has not been able to be
completed, as the prerequisite of
Veolia Environnement’s takeover of
the SNCM has not been met.
The results are very negative
in the short term for the CDC,
even though a recovery
has begun.
For Transdev, the first years following
the merger resulted in heavy losses.
The turnover, which was supposed
to grow by 5% per year, was only
€6.6bn in 2013, a figure far below
the combined turnover of Transdev
Summaries of the Cour des comptes 2016 Annual Public Report
and Veolia Transport before the
merger (€8.1bn). This decrease is
explained by significant losses of
contracts and, starting in 2013, by
sales of assets that the company
was forced to carry out because of
its financial difficulties.
Transdev’s result was negative between
2011 and 2013, with accumulated
losses on the order of €1bn.
For the CDC, this transaction represented
in recent times the group’s second-
largest source of losses after Dexia.
For the CDC group, the losses from its
interest in Transdev amounted to
€554m during the same period.
In terms of assets, the net value of the
interest fell to €374m, as a result of
€597m in impairments.
Nevertheless, the CDC’s strategic
choice must be assessed over the long
The adjustment by Transdev is starting
to yield results, with a return to balance
in 2014. The CDC took over operational
control of the company at the end of
2012, which took on the historical
name of Transdev again.
However, results far greater than the
sector’s average for several years
would be necessary to compensate
for the losses.
This transaction highlighted
persistent weaknesses
in the CDC’s governance
The conduct of this transaction showed
that the CDC’s supervisory commission
and the investment committee created
by the economic modernisation act
(LME) of 4 August 2008 were not
included in on the merger decision in
satisfactory conditions.
Still, it is essential that investment or
disinvestment decisions pertaining to
major issues stop being based on the
sole responsibility of the managing
director and be able, like in all entities
of this size, to effectively involve the
body performing the supervisory
function of the institution and the
action of the managing director in the
various stages of the decision and the
The Transdev-Veolia Transport merger:
an ill-conceived transaction with major losses
to date for the Caisse des Depots et Consignations
Summaries of the Cour des comptes 2016 Annual Public Report
The Transdev-Veolia Transport merger:
an ill-conceived transaction with major losses
to date for the Caisse des Depots et Consignations
fully use the mechanism resulting
Modernisation Law) of 2008:
- by strictly respecting the powers
of the investment committee and
the supervisory commission and
ensuring the complete transmission
of information;
- by providing the investment
committee with the means necessary
to enable it to use outside expertise.
change the rules of procedure of
the supervisory commission to
reinforce its role and the role of the
investment committee:
- by
committee to stay proceedings
when it believes that the conditions
of investigation are not met to allow
it to present an informed opinion;
- by providing that the supervisory
commission formalise at least once a
year opinions on the CDC’s with
regard to its subsidiaries;
- by extending this power to inte-
rests that are the subject of “strate-
gic support” although they are not
consolidated within the group’s scope.
initiate thinking about a modification
of the law in order to give the
supervisory commission a veto
right (simple majority or two-thirds)
on operations within the scope of the
referral to the investment committee.
Summaries of the Cour des comptes 2016 Annual Public Report
Summaries of the Cour des comptes 2016 Annual Public Report
National theatres:
scenes of excellence,
weakened institutions
The Cour des comptes examined the
operation of four of the five national
theatres6: Comédie-Française, Théâtre
national de l’Odéon (TNO), Théâtre
national de la Colline (TNCo), and
Théâtre national de Strasbourg (TNS),
between 2006 and 2014.
Considered by the ministry of culture
and communication to be “the pillars
of its public policy in favour of drama”,
these four industrial and commercial
€458.23m in operating grants between
2006 and 2014, i.e., 71% of their total
An essential place in
the French dramatic landscape
Situated atop a vast decentralised
drama network, the national theatres,
unlike the 39 national and regional
drama centres (CDN/R) and 71 national
venues, receive exclusively State public
receive nearly half of the State’s
grants allocated to all 110 decentralised
This high concentration is based on
the formal political choice to equip
these institutions with substantial
(717 full-time
(FTEW), in addition to the employment
of casual artistic and technical workers,
averaging 88 FTEW per year) and
various production tools (11 halls).
A distinctive yet fading identity
The status of each of the four national
theatres is not within a common legal
framework, each of them being
governed by regulatory and contractual
that are their own.
Thus, beyond the distinctive criterion
of substantial resources allocated by
the State, the boundary between
national theatres and CDN is increasingly
permeable, at least as regards the
TNCo and the TNS, which in principle
cannot be distinguished, at least in
terms of artistic programming and
ambition, from large CDNs.
The artistic identity specific to each of
the four national theatres, historically
forged by their successive directors,
also tends to be fading.
The Théâtre national de Chaillot, whose activity is geared towards dance, is not included in the
scope of the investigation, which focused exclusively on drama institutions.
Cost, subsidy, and revenues per paid seat in 2006 and 2014 (in euros)
Source: Cour des comptes. For the TNS, the subsidy per paid seat was calculated on the basis
of only the subsidy for the theatre (excluding School). However, given the pooling of
resources between the theatre and the School, a part of the subsidy for the theatre can cover
the School’s expenses.
National theatres: scenes of excellence,
weakened institutions
Very largely absent supervision
The development of the activities of the
national theatres, like their operation, is
subject to little supervision by the
ministry of culture.
The mission letters sent to the directors
are either non-existent or received
several months after the post is taken
up. With the exception of the TNS, no
contract was
during the nine years of the period
under review, despite the repeated
commitments made during the previous
audits of the Cour des comptes.
The failure of the supervision is
Comédie-Française. While it provides
nearly 70% of its financing, the State
does not have the right to vote in its
administrative committee.
Regardless of the theatre in question,
the monitoring of the management is
very incomplete: the conditions for
appointment and departure of directors
are expensive and lack transparency,
and their service obligations (staging
poorly defined.
Lastly, the conditions of use of certain
contributed buildings are not satisfac-
tory. Such is the case of the Ateliers
Berthier, permanently assigned to the
Odéon in 2006, without any prior
study. The same year, the TNS was
allocated the former music conservatory
of the City of Strasbourg, which remains
untapped, for lack of an identified use
and rehabilitation project.
A fragile, unbalanced financial
Despite high attendance rates (83% in
2006, 98% in 2014), the economy of
the national theatres remains fragile.
A largely loss-making activity
Of the 356 shows presented (excluding
Comédie-Française) between 2006
and 2014, only seven were able to
be self-financed (six at the Odéon
and one the Colline). With regard to
the Comédie-Française, due to the
integration of the cost of the permanent
troupe into its structural expenditures,
it is more difficult for it to determine
the actual rate of self-financing of its
In 2014, show revenues represented
from 9% (Colline and TNS) to 21%
(Odéon) of the price of a paid seat.
Summaries of the Cour des comptes 2016 Annual Public Report
National theatres: scenes of excellence,
weakened institutions
Summaries of the Cour des comptes 2016 Annual Public Report
An insufficient distribution of shows
Between 2006 and 2014, the number
of shows presented on tour averaged
between two (Colline and TNS) and
six (Comédie-Française) per year for
an average number of performances
that reaches, at best, 20% of the total
performances offered within these
The increase in structural expenditures
With the exception of the TNS, the
structural expenditures of all the
national theatres increased at a
significantly faster rate than inflation
(+16% between 2006 and 2014, up to
+27% for the Odéon).
At the Comédie-Française, the theatre’s
expenditures are burdened by the
“sharing system”, which consists in
distributed nearly all of the operating
profits to the members and, more
marginally, the staff. Any surplus thus
leads only to a very marginal profit
for the public agency, since the result is
immediately converted into remuneration
expenditures (immediate or deferred),
which unavoidably increase the payroll.
Areas for improvement:
the search for a better
economic balance
The directors of the theatres have three
major levers to improve the financial
balance of their establishment.
Streamlining of expenditure
Old and costly, the collective agree-
ments, in some cases signed more
than 40 years ago, should be revised
on several points (work time less than
the statutory work time, particularly
complex bonus systems).
The organisation of the production,
whether it involves the number of
staff on set or the use of sets and
costumes, deserves to be rethought.
A better allocation of resources bet-
ween the main halls, more profitable,
and the many additional halls with very
small capacity – which account for up
to 40% of the artistic budget – should
also be sought.
Because of their size and the proximity
of their needs, the national theatres
would benefit from pooling several of
their administrative and accounting func-
tions (accounting agency, purchasing, and
contracting) as well as certain production
functions (workshops, storage spaces,
organisation of tours and audio-visual
Increase in revenues
The capacities are not optimally
exploited. The partial use of the
halls, for technical reasons or artistic
requirements of staging, has led to
the loss of several thousand seats
per year (64,161 seats in 2006 and
56,645 in 2014).
The policy of invitations or distribution
of free seats, which explains the loss of
nearly 75,000 seats per year, should be
revised downwards.
National theatres: scenes of excellence,
weakened institutions
Summaries of the Cour des comptes 2016 Annual Public Report
To the State:
reinforce the State’s place within
the administrative committee of
the Comédie-Française;
establish mission letters and
entered into performance contracts
at the beginning of the term of
office of the directors, in order to
set clear, measurable objectives for
each of the institutions and, at the
end of the mission, be sure to define
the conditions of departure;
make any new project at the
Berthier workshops conditional on
the performance of a study on the
necessary investments, operating
costs, and pooling of equipment
between the Comédie-Française
and the Odéon.
To the Comédie-Française and the
clarify the asset and accounting
links between the Société des
Comédiens-Français and the public
agency of the Comédie-Française.
To the four national theatres and the
contractual provisions (collective
agreement, additional agreements);
created performances by increasing
the number of performances at the
headquarters, as well as the number
of tours, particularly in collaboration
significantly reduce the number of
free seats (75,000 in 2014) and
annually report to the board of
directors on the policy of free
revise the pricing policy based on
better knowledge of the spectators
(performance of statistical studies
on the composition of the audience);
pool the production functions
(workshops, storage, circulation of
costumes and sets, or even distribution
activities) and administrative functions
contracting support).
Summaries of the Cour des comptes 2016 Annual Public Report
The fight against fraud in urban
transport in the Greater Paris
region: a collective failure
The Cour des comptes conducted a
survey on the fight against fraud
implemented by the RATP and the
SNCF on the transport networks of
the Greater Paris region (metro, RER
and Transilien, bus, tramway), which
are particularly vulnerable to fraud
because of the massive flows of
passengers transported and the
absence of automatic screening
stations on the land network like in
numerous train stations.
Growing fraud rates
in the Greater Paris region,
significantly higher than
comparable foreign networks
The measurement of fraud is based on
regular surveys, which, although they
are approximate and under-estimate
the phenomenon, paint a disturbing
Ticket fraud (proportion of travellers
travelling without valid or validated
tickets) is actually nearly 14% on the
surface network and between 2.5%
and 4% on the rail networks (2014
figures). These rates have increased
since 2008, mainly on the surface
network and, to a lesser degree, on
the rail networks. At the same time,
distance fraud (use of a ticket not
covering all travel fare zones) on the
Transilien network has improved
substantially, which is the consequence
of successive dezonings decided by the
transport authority of the Greater
Paris region (STIF) since 2011.
Fraud rates in the Greater Paris region
thus appear to be substantially higher
than those of similar foreign networks
(around 3% on surface networks and
1% on the metro networks), which is
even less understandable given that
fares in the Greater Paris region are
low and the range of social fares is
particularly developed.
The fight against fraud in urban transport
in the Greater Paris region: a collective failure
Rate of ticket fraud on the Greater Paris region networks since 2004 (in %)
Real anti-fraud efforts
by the two transporters,
but disappointing results
The two transporters, RATP and
SNCF, have mobilised to combat
fraud, and decreasing fraud has been
a goal of their respective contracts
with the STIF since 2008.
The RATP has defined an ambitious
strategy, implemented by a control
department able to intervene jointly
on all its networks. The SNCF, whose
Transilien network is much more
extensive, is making an effort to
improve the tightness of its stations,
whereas its controls are increasingly
based on static operations in the
station, protected by agents of its
security department. Ticket inspectors
of the two companies are in fact faced
with growing constraints of incivility
and insecurity.
Up to now, this mobilisation of the
mixed results. Although there is
room for improvement within the
two companies, particularly with
regard to the organisation of work or
the statutory constraints, legal and
functional limits are undermining the
effectiveness of the fight against fraud.
A major obstacle: the difficulty
in collecting reliable data
about the identity
and address of offenders
Under the applicable legislation, the
sworn ticket inspectors of the two
transporters may request the identity
and address of an offender but do not
have the means to verify them. The
violations are thus often written out
on the basis of erroneous data, which
do not allow a track down of the
fraudster at the recovery stage.
Summaries of the Cour des comptes 2016 Annual Public Report
Sources: Cour des comptes according to data from RATP and SNCF
In the face of a stubborn fraudster, the
ticket inspector can certainly notify a
law enforcement officer, who may
issue an order to detain the fraudster
or bring him in to verify his identity. In
practice, this order is virtually never
given, given the administrative nature
of the offence, the small amount of
the harm in question, and the priority
given to safety and anti-crime duties
by law enforcement officers. The
police officers responsible for patrol
tasks on the network who are not law
enforcement officers have limited
powers of control and, unlike the
paradoxically have no power to
book in transport police matters.
Marginal recovery from violations
and criminal penalties
that remain rare
Recoveries related to offences start
with an amicable phase between the
company and the offender. Starting
from this phase, the recovery system
appears to be deficient, since 60% of
offenses do not result in any recovery.
Only immediate payment to the ticket
inspector, which occurs in 30% of
cases, appears to be effective. The
recovery rate for violations without
immediate payment is marginal (14%)
due to difficulties in tracking down the
If the amicable procedure fails, the
Public Treasury takes over to collect the
fines, which it manages to do in only 5%
to 9% of cases. Yet, the transporters
contact it only for fewer than half of
their non-recovered violations, those
deemed the most reliable.
Lastly, the criminal punishment of
fraudsters appears to be very low. In
particular, the usual fraud, which
represents an increasing proportion
of transport fraud and constitutes an
offence, is not yet the subject of a
systematic crackdown, even though
the sentences handed down, which
may include prison sentences, are
often substantial.
A significant cost
In 2013, fraud in mass transport in
the Greater Paris region represented
a loss of revenue of €191m for the
RATP, i.e., the price of 14 “MI09”
two-level trains, and €57m for the
SNCF, i.e., the price of six ”nouvelles
would fund nearly half the cost of
Navigo pass implemented by the
STIF beginning in September 2015,
estimated at €485m.
More generally, considering the cost of
the anti-fraud measures implemented
by the two transporters and the
revenues resulting from the recovery
of fines, the overall financial impact
of fraud for the RATP and the SNCF
in the Greater Paris region was
€366m in 2013.
Nevertheless, the significance of this
cost should not reduce the fight
against fraud to a commercial issue:
the failure in this area is not only a
failure of companies, but also a failure
of public action.
Summaries of the Cour des comptes 2016 Annual Public Report
The fight against fraud in urban transport
in the Greater Paris region: a collective failure
The fight against fraud in urban transport
in the Greater Paris region: a collective failure
Evaluation of fraud for the RATP and the SNCF Transilien
To the RATP, the SNCF, and the STIF:
define a harmonised, stable tool
for measuring fraud and develop a
dissuasive communication strategy
against fraud.
To the SNCF and the RATP:
better articulate the anti-fraud
strategies of the two companies in
order to concentrate the control
resources on the most vulnerable
areas; ensure systematic monitoring
of repeat fraudsters and increase
the number of complaints filed
against the usual fraudsters.
To the SNCF and the STIF:
define a programme for equipping
the stations with automatic control
lines if they lack them, prioritised on
the basis of technical and economic
studies of flows and levels of fraud.
To the State:
within an expanded interministerial
framework, involving all the relevant
ministries, provide the legal answers to
lift the barriers to obtaining identities
and reliable addresses when citation
are issued.
Summaries of the Cour des comptes 2016 Annual Public Report
Source: Cour des comptes according to data from RATP and SNCF
Chapter III
Project management
The French horse and riding institute: an improperly
conducted reform, a phase-out to be scheduled
Reorganisation of public higher education in agriculture:
a deceiving reform
The Terra Botanica botanical part: a costly initiative in
search of financial viability
The French horse
and riding institute:
an improperly conducted reform,
a phase-out to be scheduled
Source: Cour des comptes according to the 2010 activity report of the IFCE
Sites of the French horse and riding institute in 2010
This activity, historically viewed as a public service mission, still called “public mating”, was
intended to ensure the quality and genetic diversity of horse breeds in France.
Created under Louis XIV, the Haras
nationaux (French national stud
farms) gradually lost its reason for
existence from the end of the 20
century: with a vast network of stud
farms and riding centres, their core
business was equine reproduction
until the activity of private stud farmers
In 2010, the State, after setting goals for
the Haras nationaux in the 2000s to
reduce their activity, created a new
public agency intended to be the sole
horse operator, formed through the
merger of the Haras nationaux and the
École nationale d’équitation de Saumur
(ENE - French national riding school of
Saumur): the Institut français du cheval
et de l’équitation (IFCE - French horse
and riding institute).
Summaries of the Cour des comptes 2016 Annual Public Report
The French horse and riding institute:
an improperly conducted reform,
a phase-out to be scheduled
An inconsistent
merger decision
The merger of the Haras and the
“Cadre noir” to create the IFCE was
conducted without any search for true
consistency: in particular, there was a
major contradiction between one of
the objectives of the merger – make
high-level horses available to the ENE
for competition – and the decision to
sell the fleet of stallions of the former
Haras nationaux to the private sector
Moreover, the choice to put an end to
public mating was not accompanied
by the takeover by the private sector
of the functions previously performed
by the Haras nationaux for the entire
equine industry: equine production in
France has lost between 20% and
30% of its volumes since 2008, putting
the genetic resource at risk – in both
diversity and quality – in an economic
environment unfavourable to the
recreational sector in France. At the
same time, the private mating supply
has struggled to develop.
Deficiencies in management
The Cour des comptes noted several
types of deficiencies in the operation
and management of the IFCE: certain
support functions, such as thorough
knowledge of the costs of its activities
improperly performed.
In addition, since its creation, the
IFCE has experienced governance
problems: since 2010, there have
been two managing directors and
two chairmen of the board of the
The IFCE also suffers from the geogra-
phical dispersion of its management
team: whereas the managing director
and his deputy are located in Saumur
(Maine-et-Loire) – former headquarters
of the ENE, the Secretary General is
located in Pompadour (Corrèze) – the
former headquarters of the Haras
Lastly, since its creation, the esta-
blishment’s financial position has
deteriorated continuously because of
a structurally negative operating result,
which translates into a cumulative
operating deficit over its five years of
existence of €29m. {PS}Its revenues do
not cover its expenditure; it lives in a
permanent financial imbalance that
forced the State in 2015 to increase the
subsidies for public service expenditures
that it pays to the IFCE by 17%.
Excessive resources
for reduced missions
Within the IFCE, the former ENE has
retained its previous missions: promote
the influence of equestrian arts by the
riders of the Cadre Noir de Saumur (the
French horseback riding tradition has
been recognised as an intangible cultural
heritage of humanity by UNESCO),
organise training in equestrian arts and
sports, participate in the reception and
development of high-level equestrian
sports in coordination with the French
horseback riding federation (FFE).
The former ENE, and particularly the Cadre Noir de Saumur, regularly purchase horses in
Germany and the Netherlands.
Summaries of the Cour des comptes 2016 Annual Public Report
The French horse and riding institute:
an improperly conducted reform,
a phase-out to be scheduled
However, excluding ENE, the IFCE has
lost most of its activity and reason for
adjustments having been made as
regards both the human resources
and the territorial locations: the main
remaining mission of the former Haras
nationaux is the equine registration
and tracking system, within a database
called SIRE, as well as the organisation
of training in horse-related professions.
The initial goal of reducing the
workforce by 450 FTEs in nine years
(which was supposed to result in a
workforce of 650 FTEs in 2018) has
been abandoned. The forecast for
2017 is now 745 FTEs.
Five years after its creation, the IFCE
is therefore in difficulty: its public
service missions are now limited,
where the vast real estate portfolio
inherited from the Haras nationaux is
no longer necessary for its missions;
the personnel of the former Haras
responsible of public mating are still
across a large number of locations
although their previous activities
have disappeared; and the financial
position of the Institute is in constant
deterioration because of the loss of
revenue from mating not offset by
savings measures.
In addition, the missions to develop
equestrian sports remain incidental
and unsteady.
Even though the ambition of the project
can explain that, barely a few years after
the creation of the establishment, its
reform is not yet completed and that its
“economic model” is still uncertain, the
fact remains that the IFCE has not found
its balance: the merger in 2010 did not
produce the expected savings or permit
a real integration of the two pre-existing
establishments. The merger revealed
many weaknesses:
- the objectives initially established for
the merger of the Haras nationaux
and the ENE assumed that reforms
would be made, particularly with
regard to public mating, but have not
been made;
- the
human but also in terms real estate,
of the decision to put an end to
public mating were not properly
- the
these decisions was thus made
close down the IFCE and organise
the transmission of the public service
activities that still exist there, between
the ministries respectively responsible
research, market observation) and
sports (training and French riding
tradition), or even the Haras national
du Pin;
organiser la réaffectation des
personnels de l’IFCE ;
organiser la cession du patrimoine
immobilier de l’IFCE.
Summaries of the Cour des comptes 2016 Annual Public Report
Reorganisation of public higher
education in agriculture:
a deceiving reform
The public agencies for higher education
in agriculture under the supervision of
the ministry of agriculture, agri-food, and
forestry prepare nearly 10,000 students
for engineering, veterinary, or landscape
careers, 39% of whom are fellows and
whose net rate of employment at the
end of their schooling is high. The total
of their budgets executed in 2014
amounted to €367m, including €194m
in payroll paid directly by the ministry.
In 2003, the minister of agriculture
launched a comprehensive reform of
agricultural education to adapt to the
new demands of society. For higher
education, this meant reinforcing the ties
with agricultural technical education,
bringing the training up to European and
international standards, and developing a
contractual policy between the State and
the institutions.
From great ambition
to withdrawal
Seven “centres of excellence” have been
created to coordinate the activities of
higher education institutions, research
organisations, and development and
technology transfer organisations over
a geographical area.
The presence of several public higher
education institutions in agriculture
in the same centre led to groupings,
leading to six new scientific, cultural,
agencies between 2007 and 2010
resulting from the merger of fifteen
schools. These mergers were laborious
and generally purely administrative.
The restructuring process only partly
remedied the scattering of locations.
The ministry of higher education is
associated with supervision, mainly
for the definition of the strategy and
the accreditation of institutions, and
higher education in agriculture is slowly
approaching university education. The
ministry of agriculture is reluctant to
adopt measures that would have the
effect of loosening its relationship with
these institutions, and openness to the
university world is increasing more under
the effect of legislative changes and
the will of the ministry of agriculture.
Summaries of the Cour des comptes 2016 Annual Public Report
Reorganisation of public higher education
acin agriculture: a deceiving reform
The sites in 2015
Results far from the goals
The initial training system for agricul-
tural technical educators, entrusted to
the École nationale de formation
agronomique (ENFA - French national
agricultural training school), has not
changed, the number of trainees is
low, and the disciplines taught are
numerous. As a result, the cost of this
training is exorbitant. For continued
education, the mission of the national
support service (SNA), although
hundreds of kilometres away, three
centres were integrated into EPSCP
during their creation, without that the
transplant actually having taken. A
complete overhaul of the initial and
continued education system for public
agricultural technical educators and a
streamlining of these activities with
those of other agricultural higher
education institutions and those of
national education are necessary.
Summaries of the Cour des comptes 2016 Annual Public Report
Source: Cour des comptes according to data from the ministry of agriculture,
agri-food, and forestry (MAAF)
Reorganisation of public higher education
in agriculture: a deceiving reform
The training and research offering has
been little changed by the mergers of
institutions. Only a minority of students
have been able to benefit from the
enrichment of the training offering.
The ministry has not fully played its role
as the stimulus of change. Until 2013, it
did not change its practices with regard
to the institutions although the reform
aimed to modernise them, and it was
slow to provide common management
tools. In addition, the movement of
contractualisation, an explicit objective
of the reform, has been delayed.
Institutions that have experienced
financial difficulties have not found
with their supervisor the support that
would have allowed them to avoid
major disturbances. Thus, the École
vétérinaire d’Alfort (National veterinary
school of Alfort) avoided payment
default only with a total of €6m in
exceptional State funding, three times
the annual amount of the operating
The search for a unifying body
A new attempt to ensure consistency
is promised by the recent creation, in
2015, of a cooperation structure: the
Institut agronomique, vétérinaire et
forestier de France (IAVFF - French
agronomy, veterinary, and forestry
institute), whose positioning is not yet
clearly defined.
reduce the dispersion of institutions
by decreasing the number of locations;
reduce the cost of the initial training
of agricultural technical educators
by streamlining the system (ENFA
and centres of the SNA);
contracts of objectives and perfor-
mance and accelerate the efforts
to provide common management
tools to the institutions.
Summaries of the Cour des comptes 2016 Annual Public Report
The Terra Botanica botanical park:
a costly initiative in search
of financial sustainability
Summaries of the Cour des comptes 2016 Annual Public Report
Source : IGN
The park in Maine-et-Loire
The Terra Botanica park, located in
Angers in Maine-et-Loire, is a park of
275,000 plants from five continents.
This facility, opened in April 2010, was
designed to promote the image of the
département of Maine-et-Loire by
showcasing its plant industry.
400,000 visitors per year, the park
received only 162,000 visitors in 2014,
whereas 290,000 were expected to
ensure financial stability.
In reality, its attractiveness has never
been sufficient because this investment
was initially poorly defined. Its operation
has lacked transparency. Today, the
future of this facility remains uncertain.
The Cour des comptes makes recom-
mendations to permit long-term
viability of this activity, which
should be truly complementary to
the local plant industry.
A risky investment
During the park’s design, no strategy
was truly developed, the prior studies
were insufficient, and the long-term
economic balance was not properly
estimated. The complexity of its
construction was not sufficiently
evaluated in advance.
Although the purpose of the park – to
promote plants in Anjou and contribute
to economic development and tourism
– has always been based on consensus,
the means of achieving it have lacked
The département of Maine-et-Loire
entrusted its construction by agency
agreement to the local semi-public
department development company,
transaction amounted to €115m, and
the département received €22.3m in
subsidies and €17.5m from the VAT
compensation fund. After deduction
of these forms of funding, the facility
cost €75.2m.
The Terra Botanica botanical park:
a costly initiative in search
of financial sustainability
Upon its opening to the public, the
SODEMEL had issued more than
one thousand observations. The
public service delegation therefore
occurred without any inventory or
formal handover of the facilities.
The attendance goals making it
possible to achieve the projected
operating balance of 290,000 visitors
were reached only in 2011, and the
decline was significant since 2012.
A lack of transparency
in operating the park
park’s management to a semi-public
through a public service delegation
(DSP). Operational difficulties appeared
very quickly because the financial risk
and economic balance were initially
poorly estimated.
Most of the obligations related to the
park’s operation have not been met.
For its part, the département showed
no specific requirement with respect
to the operator.
Faced with difficulties, the operator
requested financial compensation
from the département, which first
paid €3.1m in a roundabout way by
expressly asking SODEMEL to fund
In fact, the first alerts were not formally
bodies until the end of 2013.
For the last season managed by the
SEM in 2014, the département paid a
balancing subsidy of €1.7m for total
turnover that was then €2.99m.
These direct and indirect sources of fun-
ding provided by the département
delayed the appearance of the structural
deficit of the public service delegation,
which is estimated at €5.7m for the
2010-2014 period, representing 31%
of cumulative operating income.
The governance of Terra Botanica
was particularly inadequate. Its board
of directors acted as a simple rubber
stamp for decisions made by the
département. This management proved
to be notoriously insufficient to cope
with the difficulties encountered by
the park.
A park with an uncertain future
Faced with the impossibility of
contribution from the public authori-
ties, a public interest group was
created, composed of the département
of Maine-et-Loire (51% of the share
capital), the commune of Angers (48%),
and the tourism committee (1%) to
operate the park from 2015.
Sharing responsibility and funding
between two local authorities instead
of only one will not solve the park’s
structural deficit in the long run,
because the public funding require-
ments remain particularly significant
and are even amplified; by 2015, this
financial support totalled €3.56m.
The park’s management must take
advantage of this new round table
to strengthen its relations with
partners in the plant sector and
also more actively seek other funding
sources from external private partners
or patrons.
Summaries of the Cour des comptes 2016 Annual Public Report
To the département of Maine-et-
Loire and the town of Angers:
establish a performance contract
the manager on specific
objectives and monitoring indicators.
To the Terra Botanica public interest
develop partnerships with the
plant ecosystem of Anjou and
involved in the “plant” sector;
resources through the park’s compe-
titive activities.
The Terra Botanica botanical park:
a costly initiative in search
of financial sustainability
Summaries of the Cour des comptes 2016 Annual Public Report
First and foremost a better link between
the park and the plant ecosystem has to
be created, particularly by presenting
research, testing local innovations at
full scale, and raising awareness
among young visitors to the many
plant-related professions.
The implementation of the new
mode of management has been an
opportunity to clarify the park’s
image and redefine the priority targets.