OECD Territorial Reviews: France 2006

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This detailed policy review examines recent developments in regional policy in France and in particular, challenges regarding competiveness policies and multilevel governance. It includes interesting statistics related to regions and makes a series of recommendations for French authorities.

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Territorial Strategies and Competitiveness Policies

The main object of French regional policy for many years was to promote the even distribution of production and employment across the country. Successive governments sought, in particular, to reduce the excessive predominance of the area around the capital and focused on enabling the regions that had been lagging behind, in western and central France, to catch up, as well as on the development gap between urban and rural areas. For the most part, this was a directive rather than an incentive-based regional planning policy that promoted spatial renewal, infrastructure and public investment in disadvantaged areas. This approach, prominent during the “thirty glorious years” after the Second World War, was also characterised by the concentration of decision-making at central level, while the regions implemented the policies in a passive manner. Regional development was at that time part of the National Plan, with national strategy being implemented by the DATAR. From this standpoint, governance was seen as a matter of hierarchy, with local authorities functioning to some degree as “agents” for central government, which alone could decide on policy...

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