There has been a lot of name calling in Britain this week. The same is true in France, but for different reasons – the names of its new super-regions have been announced. And not everyone’s happy.
The move to larger regions is an attempt to cut down on bureaucracy and, by extension, the state budget. Fewer regions means fewer regional capitals – and fewer employees.
Some regions haven’t changed at all. Brittany and the Pays de la Loire, for example, will keep their existing names because their boundaries are the same as they were.
Others have been made larger and have opted for a simple amalgamation of their old names. Unfortunately, the results don’t necessarily roll off the tongue – Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes and Bourgogne-Franche-Comté are good examples. Or bad, depending on which way you look at it.
This approach would have too much for Champagne-Ardenne, Lorraine and Alsace, so regional leaders have opted for Grand-Est instead. Similarly, Nord-Pas-de-Calais and Picardie have gone for Hauts-de-France. Down in the south, the Midi-Pyrénées and Languedoc-Roussillon have chosen Occitanie as their new moniker.
I rather like all three of these names. However, I know they have not come without some controversy.
“Bringing together Poitou-Charentes, Limousin and Aquitaine under the name Nouvelle-Aquitaine has brought howls of protest”
Nowhere has there been as much consternation as in my adopted region, though. Bringing together Poitou-Charentes, Limousin and Aquitaine under the name Nouvelle-Aquitaine has brought howls of protest. It was adopted this week by the Conseil Régional but it is by no means universally liked.
Residents of Poitou-Charentes and the Limousin think they have simply been annexed by Aquitaine – and they’ve launched a petition against the new name. So far, it’s garnered more than 22,000 signatures.
They have until 1 October to come up with something better. That’s when the new name is due to be confirmed by the Conseil d’Etat. I reckon they have as much chance of getting the decision changed as the 4 million of us unfortunate Brits who have signed a petition for a second EU referendum.