The publication of the report of the commission of reflection for the prevention of conflicts of interest in public life and, perhaps soon, the adoption of a law on the prevention of conflicts of interest solve all problems It can be in doubt unless they lead to promote a true "culture of ethics in public life", as Prime Minister, François Fillon, pointed out in a letter of March 16.
The concept of conflict of interest has burst into the public debate in 2010 through business profile including involving fiscal policy or health policy. Martin Hirsch has, with its courageous test ("to put an end to the conflict of interest", Stock), rendered the finally compelling subject. 2011 should be the year of solutions since it began with the presentation to the President of the Republic of the report of the commission chaired by the Vice-President of the Council of State, Jean-Marc Sauvé. Legislation should also be presented in June in the Council of Ministers and adopted before the end of the year, promised the head of State.
Conflicts of interest are devastating. However, the French public sector lived until now in the denial of their very existence. Recruitment for the public service on competition appeared, in the words of the commission saved, as a "structural protection" against conflicts of interest. And intellectual protection resulted from the myth of the permanent research of general interest in all of the shares of public actors of the public officer to the Minister, through the public business executive. The French State thus ignored the concept of conflict of interest, yet become a hobbyhorse of the OECD. In truth, this anglo-saxon concept, so often used by bankers and lawyers, was not to the extent of our high French conception of the public thing.
The treatment of the conflict of interest in public life boils down to old legislation essentially repressive, poorly known to very severe, little suited to the reality and not applied. In short, a "hard law" ineffective but no preventive system. Public players are only practice with their potential issues and cases of conscience. Report saved speaks of "ethical solitude." He therefore stressed the need to adopt a preventive approach by alert devices, "soft law" instruments and internal ethics in Government.
This approach must be implemented. However, it would be illusory to believe that an act could definitively settle the issue of conflicts of interest in providing for a series of prohibitions and incompatibilities. Should learn to identify and to resolve the case by case basis.
The emergence of situations of risk of conflict of interest is not abnormal in itself as there are rules to resolve. In the world of business, the management of conflicting interests is a daily practice. The divergence of interest to even create a certain tension, competition, a competition that can be a source of progress. The separation of powers at the top of the State between the legislative, the Executive and the judiciary is also based on this idea of non-convergence of interests.
The management of conflicts of interest must therefore become a daily habit of the State, a discipline to follow.