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Brittany regional president bids for autonomy in wake of Corsica move

Local official criticised ‘backward-looking centralism’ and demands parity with the deal promised to Corsica

A photo of the Breton flag against a blue sky

The president of the regional council of Brittany has called for more autonomy from France. Brittany has strong regional pride Pic: BreizhAtao / Shutterstock

Loïg Chesnais-Giarard, the president of Brittany’s regional council, wants the region to move towards more autonomy from France - in the same way as Corsica - he said this week.

He called for parity for Brittany after French President Emmanuel Macron announced new measures on Thursday, September 28, to “build autonomy for Corsica”.

Read more: Macron proposes step towards some autonomy for Corsica 

The Breton leader said he wanted to move away from “backward-looking centralism”.

Speaking during a press conference to close the Régions de France congress, Mr Chesnais-Giarard said: “I am hearing that the President of the Republic is talking about more freedom, and autonomy for Corsica, to act in important areas like housing, languages, and other subjects; well, we are asking for the same thing.” 

He later wrote on X (formerly Twitter): “The changing of the Constitution by Emmanuel Macron must not ignore other regions in France. We can’t have ministers with more autonomy of action in Corsica and shackle others with ineffective, dated centralism.”

He said: “We won’t have mature and responsible ministers on the one hand, who can act for the daily needs of their residents, and others who are stuck.”

Mr Chesnais-Giarard called for “stronger decentralisation”, and said he would present Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne with a report that includes suggested measures and proposals.

In May 2022, the region’s council voted by a large majority to ask for more autonomy, in a move directly inspired by similar developments in Corsica.

Read more: Brittany votes to ask for autonomy from France after Corsica statement

Carole Delga, president of the Occitanie region, offered some support for greater regional devolution. 

She said that she welcomed “positively but cautiously…the openness” from Mr Macron, as he had “until now been “rather tight-lipped on the issue”.

She said: “I'm sure that this openness for Corsica will also be beneficial for the overseas territories, Brittany, and other regions.”

France is split into 13 regions, including Corsica. 

These are Brittany, Normandy, Hauts-de-France, Ile-de-France, Pays de la Loire, Centre-Val de Loire, Grand Est, Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, Nouvelle-Aquitaine, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Occitanie, Provence-Alpes-Côte-d’Azur, and Corsica.

There are also five overseas regions: Guadeloupe, Martinique, Guyane, Mayotte, and La Réunion. 

The regions are themselves then divided into individual departments, of which there are 101, including those overseas.

Corsica in particular has long had a separatist movement, with some militants calling for total independence.

Read more: The ugly side of the île de beauté 

Some in Brittany are also very proud of its separate culture and history, which has long-time links with Cornwall in the UK, and other Celtic regions. Its regional language, Breton, is still spoken in the area, and calls Brittany ‘Breizh’.

Read also

Brittany votes to ask for autonomy from France after Corsica statement
France could enable autonomy for Corsica after weeks of protests
Basque and Corsica languages now included in Google Translate software

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