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France went ‘too far’ in relying on consultants like McKinsey, finance chief admits

The French government has relied too much on external consultants such as U.S. firm McKinsey, French Economy and Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said Sunday.

The statement comes just days after investigators in France launched probes into the role that consultancies played in the French 2017 and 2022 elections, amid allegations of irregular campaign financing and suspicions that work carried out by consultants was under-billed in contravention of France’s strict electoral laws.

Le Maire admitted that French governments in recent history have overly relied on consultancies. “I willingly recognize it, and I think that we have gone too far,” Le Maire told the Sunday in Politics program on TV channel France 3. “Whether it’s this government, previous governments … I think there has indeed been a slip-up,” Le Maire said.

POLITICO has previously reported how consultancies such as McKinsey, Accenture, BCG, Citwell and Capgemini have come to play a giant role in French politics, winning billions of euros worth of state contracts in the period since Emmanuel Macron took power. In the run-up to his successful re-election bid this year, Macron took flak for his dependence on the private sector which accelerated during the pandemic, with critics saying the trend chips away at accountability and transparency, and also disparages the capabilities of the civil service.

France’s government has set itself rules to reduce spending on private sector contracts by 15 percent across ministries. Paris responded to the controversy, dubbed the “McKinsey affair,” by announcing a flexible ceiling on private sector contracts that will kick in next year.



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