7. France

France is one of the world’s leading space nations, home to the European Spaceport in French Guiana and one of the biggest contributors to the European Space Agency, headquartered in Paris; as well as an active partner in multiple other international missions. The country has a strong space manufacturing base often associated with the aeronautical industry, with the biggest space-related manufacturing workforce in Europe.

In 2022, France’s institutional space budget reached USD 2 698.5 million (EUR 2 566 million), following a 1.9% yearly increase since 2015 in real terms (Figure 7.1). Contributions to the European Space Agency and Eumetsat accounted for 48.5% of the budget, with national and multilateral projects and activities covering the rest. Key strategic objectives of France include strengthening European autonomy in terms of launchers and access to space; raising competitiveness in telecommunications and earth observations; and improving space’ contribution to the fight against climate change and applications benefiting the public. Overall, the institutional space budget accounted for 0.97% of France’ gross domestic product in 2022. As part of the country’s “France 2030” COVID-19 recovery package, EUR 1 550 million (2.9% of the total) have been earmarked for space activities in the coming years.

French statistical agency INSEE and CNES, France’s space agency, conducted the first country-wide mapping of the French space manufacturing industry in 2022, identifying 1 700 firms involved in the sector in 2020, employing 33 200 people, and generating USD 12.3 billion (EUR 10.3 billion) in revenues, equally distributed between manufacturing and services (e.g. engineering and IT services). The Occitanie region in the southwestern part of the country accounted for a third of the space sector’s workforce. These statistics do not include employment and revenues from activities such as satellite operations and satellite data/signal exploitation. The Space Economy Observatory, established in 2020, is providing new evidence on the French space sector, including growth among so-called “new space” actors (some 140 firms created between 2010 and 2022).

In the 2016-20 period, France was the third global applicant for patents in space-related technologies, as shown in Figure 7.2, accounting for 12% of applications worldwide, with a majority of applications filed by private firms (78.7%). This is a reduction compared with 2006-10.

Based on the data in the OECD Development Assistance Committee Creditor Reporting System database, France was among the OECD top-five country donors in space-related official development assistance over the 2002-21 period, with a total of 64.5 million constant US dollars committed (Figure 7.3). Commitments mainly focused on satellite transmission of Radio France Internationale (“government and civil society”) and the provision of satellite data for forest monitoring (“general environment protection”), with recipient countries concentrated in Africa.

In terms of scientific output and excellence (Table 7.2), OECD indicators for scientific production, international co-authorships and citations in space-related scientific journal categories (aerospace engineering; astronomy; atmospheric science; and space and planetary science), show that authors at France-affiliated institutions performed at or above the OECD average for international collaboration and output in 2021, and slightly below for the percentage of publications among the world’s top-cited publications.


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Morénillas, N., Lafaye. M. and Bonnassieux, M. (2022), “In the space sector in France, 1,650 diversified companies and about sixty pure-players”, Insee Première, Number 1919, https://www.insee.fr/fr/statistiques/fichier/version-html/6525061/ip1919.pdf.

OECD, STI Micro-data Lab: Intellectual Property Database, http://oe.cd/ipstats, June 2023.

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