Central European Time Zone UTC+01:00
Capital City Paris
National Day 20 March
SINCE HIS ARRIVAL in the UK last September with his wife Brigitte, France’s new Ambassador Mr Jean-Pierre Jouyet has been “struck by the incredible dynamism of London. It is such a rich city, and its diversity is unparalleled. It definitely makes living in this metropolis interesting!” A big sports and music fan, Mr Jouyet confesses to being “a history aficionado” in his downtime. “I admire the great men and women which shaped the history of France and Europe, such as Philippe le Bel, Talleyrand, Fouché, Clémenceau, the Général de Gaulle or even Pompidou!”
Recalling his upbringing in Normandy, Mr Jouyet says “Ever since I can remember, I’ve had an innate desire to serve my country, driving me towards a career as a public servant.” Accordingly, his first role was at the Inspection générale des finances, before working in the tax department at the Ministry of Economy and Finance. Then he became Chief of Staff of the Minister of Industry, Foreign Trade and Urban and Rural Planning before a move to Brussels as Jacques Delors’ Chief of Staff at the European Commission.
Various roles as head of the French Treasury, Chairman of Barclays Bank France and Chairman of the Financial Markets Regulator provide him with a weighty financial background. “It’s no secret that the UK and Europe are navigating uncharted waters. Brexit has presented a situation that we have never faced before. The intricacies of a country leaving the EU are numerous, and have economic, financial, legal, regulatory and political ramifications. I have met many French stakeholders working in the financial sector to discuss the complexity of the situation.”
There was an appointment as Minister of State for European Affairs, and before coming to London Mr Jouyet served as Secretary-General of the French Presidency at the Elysée, a role that was unfortunately dominated by terrorism. “Both the Charlie Hebdo shootings and the November 2015 Paris attacks shook the entire country and had resounding international impact.” However, he continues, “Despite the senseless devastation they caused, they had a unifying role, as often tragedies do. Our country came together and emerged stronger than before.”
Reflecting on his career, he says: “I’ve had the privilege of working at the highest levels of the French state, in economic, financial, European and foreign affairs. I think that the diversity of my background, particularly in European and financial matters, will help in my role as Ambassador in the UK throughout Brexit but also beyond, given its current and enduring importance as an international financial hub.”
As Ambassador in the UK, Mr Jouyet explains that his mission is twofold. “First and foremost,” he says, “my priority to maintain and develop the Franco-British relationship. Our countries are more than just neighbours, we are linked by historic ties that affect every conceivable sector: economics, business, politics, education, sciences and arts… just to name a few! We share a common world vision and approach to global issues. The UK is one of our most important partners on the world stage. I bear this in mind in everything I do, and it is why I will work tirelessly to nurture our bilateral relationship.”
Secondly, he must promote France and assist its citizens, both the French community and French companies in the UK. “We have dynamic and thriving French communities all across the UK, so there is much to do on that front.”
He explains “France’s most pressing diplomatic objective is to preserve and enhance the efficiency of our liberal and multilateral model in the face of threats that are global in scope, such as climate change and terrorism. It is paramount to defend our political and economic model against the threats of nationalism and protectionism. This battle is fought on many different fronts.
“At the EU-level, it implies reinvigorating the European project, particularly given the period of uncertainty it is faced with. This can only be done through reform, and France is ready to play its part in this process. We are convinced by the importance of the European project, perhaps now more than ever before.
“From an international perspective, the greatest diplomatic challenge is without a doubt, security. Conflicts in Syria and Yemen, Islamist terrorist groups in Africa and the Middle East, refugee crises, climate change, or nuclear proliferation are all examples of the growing sources of insecurity in our globalised world. International problems require international solutions, and we are committed to working with our partners to develop these.”