Corsican government unveils main bases of Statute of Autonomy proposal

Simeoni executive seeks broad support from Corsican Assembly for request for law-making powers · Final, specific contents yet to be negotiated with French government

Gilles Simeoni.
Gilles Simeoni. Author: Cullettività di Corsica
The Corsican government has finalised the Autonomia report, which will be presented to the island's Assembly on 4 July. The report sets out the broad outlines of the Corsican government's proposal for a Statute of Autonomy within the French Republic. The document advocates that Corsica should be endowed with law-making powers and that this uniqueness should be written into the Constitution, taking advantage of the amendment French President Emmanuel Macron wants to approve in 2024.

The Autonomia document will be presented by the Corsican government head, Gilles Simeoni, to Corsican AMs. This is in the hope of getting majority support in the Corsican Assembly. Simeoni hopes that, apart from the 32 deputies of his Femu a Corsica party —who have an absolute majority —, the autonomists of the opposition Corsican Nation Party (PNC), who will present their own proposals, will also vote for. The French nationalist right —which wants Corsica to merely have the ability to adapt French laws— is unlikely to join in. There are more doubts about the stance of the pro-independence Core in Fronte party: they do not rule out support for the Statute, but they are not willing to validate a document that does not provide for significant autonomy.

The government presided over by Simeoni has held meetings in recent days with the PNC and Core in Fronte to try to move towards a consensus and come up with a common final wording for the document approved in the Assembly. Simeoni wants the document to have the majority support of the Corsican Assembly to strengthen it before the French government and Macron. In fact, in early June, French Interior Minister Gérald Darmarin said he was ready to discuss any proposal coming from Corsica, as long as it was endorsed by a deliberation of the Corsican Assembly. Macron is expected to mention the issue in his speech on 14 July, France's national day.

The way Simeoni advocates to obtain legislative autonomy is to add a new, exclusive chapter for Corsica to the Constitution, as is currently the case for other territories such as New Caledonia. Corsica now has executive autonomy, but cannot pass laws.

However, the specific terms of this autonomy will have to be the subject of a negotiation —which is expected to be complicated— between Corsican and French representatives. There is disagreement on key issues, such as the creation of Corsican citizenship or the co-official status of the Corsican language.