FRANCE - ACTORS AND DECISION-MAKING
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MAE, formerly Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, MAEE) is responsible for France’s diplomatic and development initiatives, and for developing sectoral strategies. Upon the appointment of the new government in May 2012, President Hollande first put in place a Minister Delegate for Development to assist the Minister for Foreign and European Affairs in development-related issues. In 2011, the MAE directly managed 12.4% of French bilateral aid and most of multilateral investments (including core contributions to the Global Fund, GAVI, UNICEF, UNFPA, WHO). Almost one quarter (23%) focused on education projects, with only 2.3% going to health and 1% to agriculture.
The Ministry of the Economy, Finance and Industry (MINEFI) managed 16.1% of bilateral ODA in 2011, of which 62% was debt relief. It is responsible for French contributions to international finance institutions, trade policies and debt management. It also manages relations with development banks and international financing institutions, as well as French funds for IFFIm. It represents France in board meetings and disburses financial contributions.
The MAE and MINEFI have traditionally diverging views, with the latter promoting internal growth and budget restrictions and the MAE being more sensitive to development policies. Since MINEFI’s portfolio includes international financial instruments (IFIs), the Ministry is more likely to prefer promoting IFIs (e.g. the World Bank) over poverty-focused programs.
The Ministry of Higher Education and Research managed 15.7% of bilateral assistance in 2011, all of which was disbursed as grants. Over 60% was spent on imputed student costs (tuition fees for foreign students studying in France). While the MAE and MINEFI are key players in managing ODA, the French Inter-ministerial Committee for International Cooperation and Development (Comité Interministériel de la Coopération Internationale et du Développement, CICID) is the body that broadly defines the strategic and geographic priorities for France’s development policy and coordinates all ministries. The Prime Minister chairs the CICID which meets once every year.
French Development Agency
In 2011, AFD was responsible for 42.8% of the bilateral assistance budget. AFD has a dual status of a public agency and a development bank, is wholly owned by the French government, and overseen by a ministerial board headed by the Prime Minister, with representatives from the MAE, MINEFI, and the Ministry of Overseas Territories, among others.. It has 70 country offices and a total of 1,681 employees, including 698 in the field (as of December 2011). In 2011, AFD committed project and program funding to over 90 countries and overseas territories. More than half of AFD’s funding comes from bonds issued on international capital markets and through private investments. Despite the overarching French development cooperation strategy published in 2011, AFD and the MAE continue to have separate sector strategies. In February 2013, Ernst & Young released an independent review of French development cooperation policy for the 1998-2010 period. The study concludes that despite recent reforms, the piloting of French development policy remains unclear and its division of labor unfinished. The document recommends that the French presidency improve the decision-making process in attributing the responsibility of political arbitration of budgetary priorities to the assignments of the Development Minister.
The French parliament with its two chambers, the National Assembly (Assemblée Nationale) and the Senate (Sénat), scrutinizes debates, proposes amendments to and votes on the budget.
While there is no development committee in the French parliament, a Parliamentary Study Group on Development Cooperation was recently launched at the French National Assembly. The most relevant committees for development policy are the Foreign Affairs Committee and the Finance Committee. Both committees exist in the lower and higher chambers, and each committee independently reviews the ODA budget and provides public reports with commentary and amendments on specific line items. One recent example was the request to earmark 5% of France’s annual contribution to the Global Fund. However, since the reports are developed when the budget is already at the final stages of development, impact on decision-making is usually limited as is the influence of parliament on the policies relating to development overall.
In 2008, the OECD DAC recommended that France involve parliament (and civil society) more prominently in the strategic dialogue on development issues. This corresponds to parliament’s interest in playing a larger role in terms of scrutinizing how the budget is actually spent. Four parliamentarians sit on the Board of Directors of AFD.
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