As with most of the foreign ministries in Europe, the French Quai d’Orsay has not escaped severe budgetary cuts in the past ten years. During 2015, some 600 positions will have to go. Rationalization is not necessarily a bad idea as some French embassies have tended to be overstaffed – especially in the cultural sections.
Career diplomats continue to be recruited in France through selective examination. At the highest level, there are two entry channels, the École Nationale d’Administration and the Concours de Conseiller d’Orient, which requires knowledge of a hard language such as Mandarin, Arabic, Russian or Swahili.
All recruits spend three months at the Institut Diplomatique, a ministry unit where they learn from senior peers through study visits and seminars. The primary aim of this probationary period is more to instil the esprit de corps rather than concentrating on policy substance.