Context of the peer review of France

Political and economic context

Emmanuel Macron was elected President of the French Republic in May 2017. His party, la République en Marche, has a comfortable majority in the National Assembly, placing it in a strong position for pushing through social and economic reforms. On the international stage, President Macron styles himself as a leader in the fight against climate change, advocating for accession by all nations to the Paris Agreement on climate change. He also sees himself as a driving force behind the revival of Franco-German relations and European integration. The next presidential and parliamentary elections will be held in 2022.

France has a population of 65 million people, and its economic activity is picking up. Annual GDP growth is expected to be at least 1.6% in 2017-18, though below the OECD average of 2.1%. Stronger growth would help maintain the current levels of social protection, given that France has the highest levels of government expenditure among OECD countries (OECD, 2017a).

While the labour market has started to improve, productivity gains are still too modest. The poverty rate is low, but unemployment – at 10% – remains above the OECD average (6.3%). Many youngsters and low-skilled workers are excluded from the labour market, especially those living in poor neighbourhoods (OECD, 2017b).

Development co-operation system

Following the 2017 elections, the French President decided to prioritise official development assistance (ODA), announcing that funds allocated to French ODA would represent 0.55% of national wealth in 2022, before eventually reaching 0.7%. The increase in ODA will be channelled into five priorities for France’s development policy: education, the climate, gender equality, health and the Sahel within the framework of the Sahel Alliance (MEAE, 2017). According to provisional figures, France’s net ODA increased by almost 15% in 2017, after a series of successive cuts.

Since the adoption in July 2014 of the Orientation and Programming Law on Development and International Solidarity (LOP-DSI), the French Parliament regularly debates France’s development policy. The law establishes a new framework for development policy, which “executes a policy that is actively involved in international efforts to fight poverty” (JORF, 2014).

The last OECD DAC peer review of France was conducted in 2013. Since then, France’s total ODA has fallen from USD 12 billion (United States dollars) to USD 9.6 billion in 2016 (OECD, 2018). The ratio of ODA to gross national income (GNI) has also fallen, from 0.44% in 2012 to 0.43% in 2017. In 2017, France ranked fifth among the members of the OECD Development Assistance Committee for its ODA volume (USD 11.3 billion), and tenth for its ODA/GNI share (0.43%).

The budget structure of French ODA is complex, with 24 separate budget programmes across 13 missions (budget categories) managed by 14 ministries, along with extra-budgetary funds. The two main budget programmes in the “Official Development Assistance” mission (Programme 209, “Solidarity with developing countries”, managed by the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs, and Programme 110, “Economic and financial development assistance”, managed by the Ministry of Economy and Finance) account for one-third of total French ODA. Consequently, two-thirds of French ODA are either used for missions that do not have development as a primary objective, or by extra-budgetary funds.

Sources

JORF (2014), "Loi n° 2014-773 du 7 juillet 2014 d'orientation et de programmation relative à la politique de développement et de solidarité internationale", Official journal of the French Republic (in French), www.legifrance.gouv.fr/affichTexte.do?cidTexte=JORFTEXT000029210384&categorieLien=id

MEAE (2017), "Mémorandum de la France sur ses politiques de coopération", Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs, Paris.

OECD (2018), OECD Statistics/DAC, oecd.org/dac/stats

OECD (2017a), "France: Country Fact Sheet", Government at a Glance, OECD, Paris, www.oecd.org/gov/gov-at-a-glance-2017-france-fr.pdf

OECD (2017b), OECD Economic Surveys: France 2017, OECD Publishing, Paris, http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/eco_surveys-fra-2017-en

OECD (2017c), "How’s Life in France", OECD, Paris, www.oecd.org/statistics/Better-Life-Initiative-country-note-France.pdf