Welsh and Breton railways: autonomy over there and theft over here!
In Wales, with which the Brittany region has had a cooperation agreement since 2004, the whole rail network and stations, all the trains and the staff who operate them are now under the full responsibility of the Welsh government.
This is an extension of the political and budgetary autonomy which Wales has enjoyed since 1999.
In comparison, when it comes to rail, the only authority which is granted to the Brittany region. Which is reduced to four départements, by French legislation
• is the 100% purchase of TERs (regional express trains). But the Brittany region doesn’t even own these trains. Yes, this is possible in France!
• and has to fully finance their maintenance and day to day operation. And nor does it have any authority over the SNCF charge who run these trains.
This limited legal authority in the rail sector doesn’t prevent the French State and the SNCF from demanding that the Brittany region contribute to financing all construction work. Brittany also has to contribute to the upgrading of the rails and stations within its territory… While French law doesn’t give the regions the budgetary resources to do so.
Read also: https://nation.cymru/news/wales-railway-services-now-nationalised-by-the-welsh-government/
It’s always Paris who decides…
So, what this means in concrete terms is that a few years ago when the railway line between Landerneau/Landerne and Kemper/Quimper needed to be saved, a single-track line (where two trains can’t pass at the same time) and which hadn’t yet been electrified, well, the Brittany region was forced to dig deep into its own pockets and sacrifice other policies.
If it hadn’t, the French State and the SNCF, who actually were responsible for the sector, wouldn’t have put a single Euro into the operation… And if the Brittany region hadn’t agreed to pay for a project for which it wasn’t responsible under the law. And for which it didn’t have a dedicated budget, then today there would be no way to travel by train between the north and south of Finistère, a département with nearly a million residents. The State’s blackmail worked in this case.
This is also what French Jacobinism means…
« I am the State, I decide, and you are the region, you pay!… and you shut up about it! Otherwise I’ll give you nothing and I’ll give my share of the funding to your neighbour. »
Let’s see things how they really are: only political and financial autonomy for Brittany (a reunified Brittany) can change things.
One « small » contextual element which mustn’t be ignored: the National Assembly (yes, that’s its name) and the government of Wales have at their disposal an annual budget of £19.765 billion, around 22.5 billion Euro.
For a population of 3 million.
To make sure the information is honest, I would specify that the budgets assigned to local authorities also go through the budget of the Parliament and the Welsh government. But it should be noted that the advantage of this situation is that it enables Welsh authorities to apply a financial balance in favour of the poorest local authorities.
The annual budget for the Brittany region (with four départements) is less than 1.7 billion Euro. For a population of 3.3 million (not including the Loire-Atlantique).
22.5 billion Euro for three million residents in Wales compared with 1.7 billion Euro for 3.3 million residents in the Brittany region.
Can you see what’s wrong in Brittany?
And it’s a former general rapporteur for the Brittany region’s budget (from 2012 to 2015) who’s asking you the question.
Written by Kristian GUYONVARC’H
Translated into english by JML
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