French President Emmanuel Macron proposed limited self-rule for the Mediterranean island of Corsica during his visit on Thursday. In a speech to the island’s Regional Assembly in Ajaccio, Macron stated, “Let us have the audacity to build a Corsican autonomy within the republic [of France].” This proposal was seen as a gesture towards Corsica’s campaign for independence.
However, it is important to note that Macron cannot unilaterally alter the French Constitution, even on behalf of Corsica, without the approval of the Parliament in Paris. Despite this limitation, Macron promised changes that would recognize the island’s unique “specificities” and viewed it as a significant step toward autonomy. However, he did not specify the powers that would be granted to Corsicans through this process.
Instead, Macron pledged that the local assembly would receive a “constitutional and organic text” within six months. This text would include the possibility of defining standards on different topics or transferring powers under the authority of the Council of State and the Constitutional Council. Additionally, Macron expressed his support for promoting the teaching of the Corsican language in public schools to encourage bilingualism.
Macron emphasized that any autonomy achieved on the island would not be against the state or without the state, but rather autonomy for Corsica within the republic. He stated, “Corsica is rooted in France and in the Republic.”
Corsica has been part of France since 1768, but it is home to a spirited nationalist movement and generations of independence activism. These movements have faced repression by the French government. Last year, protests erupted following the killing of pro-independence activist Yvan Colonna. The unrest highlighted the political differences between Paris and Corsican leaders, leading to negotiations to find a favorable solution.
The dominant nationalist wing of the Corsican Assembly has called for its own legislative power, residency status, elevation of Corsican to an official language, and inclusion in the Constitution. However, Macron has vetoed both resident status and official language status.
In conclusion, Macron’s proposal for limited self-rule in Corsica is seen as a significant step towards autonomy. While he cannot unilaterally change the French Constitution, he has promised changes that would recognize Corsica’s unique traits. The negotiations between Paris and Corsican leaders aim to find a mutually favorable solution to address the island’s long-standing political differences.