03 Jun Anne Genetet, Marching and Matching
Marching and Matching
3 June 2018
Elected as representative of the 11th overseas constituency for French expatriates in June 2017, Anne Genetet aims to give sense to their presence abroad and to bring them closer to the national community.
A doctor, medical journalist, entrepreneur and operator working with NGOs in Singapore, where she has lived since 2005, she represents the new President of the Republic’s desire for parity and for increased civil society involvement.
As a member of the Foreign Relations Commission at the National Assembly, she was commissioned by the Prime Minister to conduct a “fact-finding mission to assess the taxation and social protection of expatriates”, whose conclusions are expected on 1st June 2018 at the latest.
With the stated aim of offering improved services to expatriate residents while respecting the legal principles with which they must comply, this parliamentary mission aims to evaluate and make recommendations on taxation, access to social security benefits, simplification of access to public services and conditions for returning to France.
What inspired you to enter politics?
Actually, I’ve always taken a great interest in politics, and I have been regularly involved in local association activity. In particular, I created an organisation to help families whose children leave home to study, and I implemented a structure to provide anonymous assistance to women experiencing family problems.
However, I was never fully satisfied with any political offering until Emmanuel Macron arrived, with a certain appeal which aroused my curiosity. I became a supporter, then an activist, mainly to block the far right, whose progression appears to me to be the responsibility of my generation.
Then Emmanuel Macron called on women and civil society, and I jumped right in, with no regrets.
Luckily I didn’t know everything I know now, especially the amount of work involved or how difficult it is to make things happen at the state level!
But I’m aware that I’m not here to provoke a revolution: at our level, there are small things that we can change, but I’ll leave the big reforms to the ministers and to the President of the Republic.
Isn’t it difficult to represent such a huge constituency?
The only difficulty is that it reduces the amount of time I spend at the Assembly in comparison with my colleagues. When I travel a lot, I often miss government questions, for example. That’s the only difference.
As for the rest, my colleagues in France experience numerous difficulties which I don’t have to deal with, such as factory strikes or schools closing in rural areas, or natural disasters…
What is important is to know why we are here. My aim is to make French expatriates part of the national story once again. We are all French, we all belong to the same nation.
I would like to change people’s attitudes, and each time I visit a country, I am excited to discover all these expatriate stories, these people who left their comfort zones, who took risks, who have experienced failure in some cases yet who still continue to do exciting things and contribute to France’s international influence, for the most part. I would like to make the French understand how much expatriates can benefit the national community.
We all want to be part of a country which continues to be influential, to create jobs, and to provide a future for its young people. French expatriates contribute to that!
There are almost 2.5 million of us abroad, and many young French people will leave as well, who will perhaps indirectly create jobs in France by exporting, and eventually return to France enriched by their experiences…
We need this in order to continue to promote the image of France.
We are lucky to have a president who is very active in foreign policy and who does a great deal for our international influence. Our diplomacy is highly reputed, but that is not enough.
The French presence is not limited to diplomats, and this is the work which I wish to undertake.
Has the fact that you are an expatriate yourself changed your view of things?
I’m sure it has, but one of the qualities of a representative also lies in their capacity to adapt, to take an interest and to quickly understand what is happening elsewhere.
Like all French expatriates, I left my comfort zone and took risks, and that is what unites us.
I imagine that you are particularly questioned with the issues which you are working on in your report…
We succeeded in obtaining this famous mission which the Prime Minister commissioned to me, in which we will raise issues which specifically concern French expatriates, albeit with the unity of the French people in mind, whether they are in France or abroad.
Of course, there are issues such as free education or French-style social protection which are not possible for expatriates for obvious reasons which have nothing to do with discrimination, but which are linked to local law and to what France can and cannot do abroad. This will all be clarified in order to ensure that all of our compatriots have the same status. This is what I am working on.
I am not a union activist for French expatriates, but I wish to give meaning to their presence abroad.
What do you say to those who reproach you for not meeting them more often?
My constituency covers 49 countries, and I cannot visit them all every year, so I decide on my trips depending on the events in the various countries, so that they provide added value.
But field data is not only gathered during my trips. It is also collected through the Facebook live sessions which I organise once a month, the video-conferences held with consular officials, monthly consular information letters from the embassies, etc. As for Thailand, I am lucky to have two colleagues there, Vincent Berthiot and Adrien Coron.