- France is the fifth-largest donor country, spending US$11.3 billion on net official development assistance (ODA) in 2017, a 15% increase from 2016. This represents 0.43% of its gross national income (GNI), up from 0.38% in 2016.
- French President Emmanuel Macron has committed to increasing ODA levels to 0.55% of GNI by 2022. In line with this pledge, France’s development budget is set to reach €11.0 billion (US$12.4 billion) or 0.44% of GNI in 2019, with gradual increases from 2020 onwards: 0.47% in 2020, 0.51% in 2021, and 0.55% in 2022. According to the Interministerial Committee for International Cooperation and Development (CICID), two-thirds of the ODA increase will be channeled bilaterally, with the French Development Agency (AFD) increasing its grants budget from the current €200 million (US$221 million) to €1 billion (US$1.1 billion) in 2022.
- According to the latest CICID conclusions, France has five priority areas: 1) international stability, 2) climate change, 3) education, 4) gender equality, and 5) global health. Global education and the fight against climate change are flagship priorities of the government.
- In overall foreign policy, France prioritizes security and combating terrorism, with a strong focus on the Sahel region of Africa, where development projects accompany France’s military and political interventions.
- Geographically, France takes a differentiated approach to allocating its ODA. It provides grants mainly to 19 countries, almost all in sub-Saharan Africa, while relying on ODA loans in emerging economies.
- The 2019 G7 summit, hosted by France, focuses on five goals around inequality: 1) fighting inequality of opportunity through action on gender, education, and health access; 2) reducing environmental inequality; 3) strengthening the social dimensions of globalization; 4) addressing threats to security; and 5) tapping into the opportunities created by technology
- Macron’s focus on education will likely lead to funding increases in this sector. In February 2018, France showed international leadership on this by co-hosting the Global Partnership for Education Financing Conference.
- In October 2019, France will host the Global Fund sixth replenishment in Lyon. This reiterates the crucial role of health in France’s multilateral engagement and its support for global-health initiatives.
the big six
- How much ODA does France provide?
France is the 5th-largest donor; ODA expected to increase to 0.55% by 2022
France was the fifth-largest donor country in 2017. It spent US$11.3 billion, or 0.43% of its GNI, on net ODA. Net ODA rose by 15% between 2016 and 2017, the highest increase among members of the OECD Development Assistance (DAC) for this year. This was driven by increases in bilateral loans and higher multilateral contributions. The 2018 ODA budget was set at €10.4 billion (US$11.7 billion, or 0.44% of France’s GNI). In 2019, net ODA will continue to increase, reaching €11.0 billion (US$12.4 billion), or 0.44% of its GNI. This is in line with President Emmanuel Macron’s pledge and represents a further 10% increase from 2018.
Despite pressure on public spending, Macron, elected in May 2017, has committed to increasing ODA funding to 0.55% of GNI by the end of his term in 2022. His government detailed the trajectory of these increases in February 2018: funding is set at 0.44% of the country’s GNI until 2019, increasing to 0.47% in 2020 and 0.53% in 2021 before reaching 0.55% in 2022.
Based on the 2019 budget law, the additional funding will come from a 17% increase (from €2.7 billion to €3.2 billion) in France’s core ODA resources: the two main ODA-related budget lines (Program 209, managed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Program 110, managed by the Ministry of Economy and Finances), which account for a third of French ODA. In recent years, the government has relied more heavily on extra-budgetary funding sources, such as the financial transaction tax (FTT, see below), to fund its development programs.
France is a pioneer in using innovative financing mechanisms to fund development. In 2019, the French government allocated 32% of the revenues from its national FTT – a tax introduced in 2012 to generate more resources for solidarity purposes, including climate programs – amounting to an estimated €528 million (US$595 million). In past years, the share of the FTT proceeds allocated to development was higher, reaching 50% in 2018 owing to strong parliamentary support. In its 2019 budget, the government has decreased this share of pre-allocated funding but compensated with an increase in core budgetary ODA resources, allowing for greater flexibility to the budget. The French government is pushing for a FTT to be implemented at the European level to fund ODA and the fight against climate change. Domestically, it also uses proceeds from an airline ticket tax, of which €210 million (US$237 million) is allocated every year to development and climate change.
- What are France's priorities for global development?
Education, climate change, and global health are focus areas; security concerns shape priority-setting
In February 2018, France’s Interministerial Committee for International Cooperation and Development (CICID) – the body in charge of setting the strategic direction of France’s development cooperation – reaffirmed its commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Paris Agreement on climate change, and the protection of global public goods. The committee also reiterated the overarching goal of French development policy: fighting poverty and inequality; human rights, education, and health; accelerating transitions in energy, ecological sustainability, demographics, and governance; crisis response and prevention; and migration management.
In line with this, the CICID committed to strengthening France’s efforts in five areas: 1) international stability, 2) climate change, 3) education, 4) gender equality, and 5) global health.
2018 CICID conclusions outlined five key development priorities:
- Education: Co-chair of the GPE Funding Conference in February 2018; total pledge of €300 million for education, both through the fund and bilaterally.
- Climate change: Increase in annual funding in partner countries; €1-billion pledge to the Green Climate Fund for 2015 to 2018; €3 billion for renewable energies in Africa between 2016 and 2020.
- Health: Key in France’s multilateral engagement; host of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria sixth replenishment in October 2019
- Peace and stability: Increasing focus on development programs that promote peace and stability to fight terrorism; focus is on the Sahel region.
- Innovative financing: France is a pioneer in innovative financing for development. It draws resource for development for its financial transaction tax (FTT) and its airline tax.
President Emmanuel Macron has elevated global education as a priority of his government’s development policy. In February 2018, France co-hosted the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) Financing Conference in Dakar, Senegal, which raised a total of US$2.3 billion in donor contributions for 2018 to 2020. France committed €200 million (US$260 million using GPE’s official conversion) over three years to the GPE Fund, which will be accompanied by €100 million in bilateral funding for basic education channeled through the French Development Agency (AFD). This is more than double the US$146 million cumulative contribution of France since 2002. As of December 2018, France was the 10th-largest contributor in GPE’s history.
Tackling climate change is another priority and will remain so under Macron, who has made it a flagship theme of his presidency. In 2015, France hosted the Conference of Parties (COP21) to the United Nation’s climate convention and has made the implementation of the agreement a top priority of his government’s foreign and development policy. France plans to increase financing for climate-related programs by €2 billion (US$2.3 billion) per year between 2015 and 2020. Additionally, funding for climate-adaptation programs is set to reach €1.5 billion (US$1.7 billion) per year by then. In total, €3 billion (US$3.4billion) of this funding over the 2016-2020 period will be dedicated specifically to renewable energies in Africa.
Global health remains a key focus, particularly on the multilateral level. France will host the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Global Fund) sixth replenishment on October 10, 2019 in Lyon. It is also a strong contributor to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance (Gavi), and UNITAID.
Within its overall foreign policy, France focuses on fighting terrorism. This impacts development spending, as France increasingly uses development cooperation to promote peace and stability in partner countries. This drives a strong focus on the Sahel region of Africa, where development projects accompany France’s military and political interventions. In July 2017, Macron launched the Sahel Alliance (Alliance avec le Sahel), a joint initiative of France, Germany, and the EU, along with the World Bank, the African Development Bank, and the UN Development Program (UNDP), to better coordinate support for development and security in the G5 Sahel countries (Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger).
Related to this and increased attention to conflict-affected and fragile states, France increasingly focuses on the intersection of humanitarian aid and development. It will dedicate €500 million (US$564 million) per year by 2022 to urgent humanitarian action and post-crisis stabilization. In March 2017, it created a facility for alleviating vulnerability and responding to crises, managed by the AFD: the Minka Fund. The facility focuses on countries in crisis, post-crisis, or otherwise vulnerable situations, and was allocated €100 million (US$113 million) in 2017. Funding for this facility will double to reach €200 million (US$225 million) a year by 2019.
- How does France spend its ODA?
France channels most ODA bilaterally, but is also a strong supporter of multilaterals
According to OECD data, France delivered 63% of its ODA bilaterally in 2017. This was slightly above the average of 60% among members of the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC). Debt relief used to account for a large part of French bilateral ODA but has sharply declined in recent years, to reach 2% in 2017 from 14% in 2013. However, the Ministry of the Economy and Finance (Finance Ministry) and the French Development Agency (AFD) still implement programs called Debt- Reduction Development Contracts (C2D) with some partner countries: a portion of the debt relieved is allocated to sectors related to development, such as health and agriculture. For example, in June 2016, Côte d'Ivoire and the AFD signed a new C2D agreement for a new maternal, newborn, and child health program amounting to €68 million (US$77 million).
France’s largest funding area bilaterally is education; general budget support is strongly increasing
In 2017, France’s bilateral ODA stood at US$8.6 million, a 13% increase from 2016. The largest share goes to education: in 2017, education constituted 15% of French bilateral ODA (US$1.2 billion). However, 69% (US$864 million) of this comprises costs of students from partner countries studying in France, which can be reported as ODA. Thus, the vast share of France’s education ODA does not go to projects in partner countries.
In 2017, general budget support became France’s second-largest sector of its bilateral ODA, reaching US$816 million (9% of bilateral ODA), a significant increase from 2016 levels (US$179 million). General budget support is financing that contributes directly to partner countries’ budgets with the aim of better aligning support with the country’s policies and reducing parallel programming. In line with France’s commitment to spend €2 billion (US$2.3 billion) in Africa on renewable energies, financing for energy-related projects went up by 50% between 2015 and 2017, reaching US$802 million and making it the third-largest sector of French bilateral ODA. Infrastructure comes fourth, at 9% of bilateral ODA (US$799 million), followed by water and sanitation (US$682 million, or 8%).
France provides much of its bilateral ODA as loans. This is because they provide a relatively easy way to increase overall ODA while minimizing the impact on actual budget transfers. In 2017, loans represented almost half of France’s bilateral ODA (50%, far higher than the DAC average of 9%. The government has, however, committed to increasing the share of grants within its ODA, especially for its 19 priority countries. As part of the AFD’s overall funding increases, it plans to increase the proportion of grants within its portfolio. Currently, AFD provides the vast share of its funding as loans (79% in 2017) and also takes part in equity investments/financial guarantees (6%). In 2017, grants made up 15% of AFD’s commitments, including debt-relief operations and budget support.
It is worth noting that figures on bilateral ODA reported by France, in line with OECD reporting practices, also include a range of other items categorized as grants that do not represent actual cash transfers from France to a recipient country. The best example is imputed costs for students from middle- and low-income countries studying in France (US$864 million in 2017).
Who are France’s ODA recipients?
France focuses its grants on sub-Saharan Africa and its loans on MICs; increased focus on Sahel region
France places a strong focus on sub-Saharan Africa: between 2015 and 2017, it allocated almost a third of its bilateral ODA to the region (29%).This focus is likely to continue, particularly as France increasingly focuses on the Sahel region through its Sahel Alliance (for more details, see question two: ‘What are France’s strategic priorities for development?’).
France takes a differentiated approach to ODA depending on the partner country’s level of income: loans focus largely on emerging economies, whereas grants are primarily allocated to low-income economies.
For ODA grants, France has identified 19 fragile and least-developed countries to focus on (‘Pays Pauvres Prioritaires’, also known as ‘PPPs’), almost all in sub-Saharan Africa: Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, the Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Gambia, Guinea, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, and Togo. With the exception of Gambia, they are all francophone. France seeks to allocate at least half of all grants and two-thirds of AFD grants to these countries.
France’s ODA loans focus on emerging economies. Because of France’s emphasis on loans to deliver ODA, middle-income countries (MICs) receive the largest share of France’s bilateral ODA, amounting to 60% between 2015 and 2017. All top-10 recipients of France’s bilateral ODA are middle-income countries (see figure).
For a deeper understanding of funding at the recipient level, please consult data from the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI). IATI is a reporting standard and platform on which organizations and governments voluntarily publish data on their development cooperation, including more recent activity than is available through OECD data.
Data can be searched by recipient country, the ‘publisher’ (including funders that do not report to the OECD), and other filters. Click here for more information on IATI’s data. Click here to go directly to IATI’s ‘d-portal’, a user-friendly interface for data searches.
France is a strong contributor to multilaterals, with a focus on health.
Core contributions to multilaterals account for more than a third of France’s total ODA (37%, or US$5.0 billion in 2017). Almost half of this consists of binding contributions to the European Union (48% in 2017). France’s multilateral engagement strategy for 2017-2021, ‘For a high-performing development assistance that serves the most vulnerable’, outlines three main objectives: 1) to serve the most vulnerable; 2) to be aligned with the goals of the 2030 global agenda; and 3) to be aligned with France’s vision of sustainable development.
Health is a key sector of France’s multilateral engagement: France provides strong support to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Global Fund) and will be hosting it’s 2020-2022 replenishment in October 2019. France is also a strong contributor to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance (Gavi), and to UNITAID (for more details, see ‘sector: global health’). All three of these organizations are outlined as key partners in France’s 2017-2021 multilateral engagement strategy.
In addition to core contributions, France also provides 2% of its ODA to multilaterals as earmarked funding (US$208 million), which is reported as bilateral ODA. This is a very low share compared to the average among members of the OECD DAC, which stands at 13%.
- Who are the main actors in French development cooperation?
President has a key role; decision-making is fragmented, as several institutions are involved
France’s decision-making landscape for development policy is fragmented. The President, since May 2017 Emmanuel Macron (‘La République en Marche’; LRM), determines overall guidelines and engages in development issues through high-level commitments. The Prime Minister, Edouard Philippe since May 2017, chairs the Interministerial Committee for International Cooperation and Development (CICID), which sets long-term strategic priorities and meets on an ad-hoc basis (approximately every two years since 1998). According to a report submitted to the Prime Minister on the modernization of France’s development aid from August 2018, France will establish a new coordination body, the Development Council, to possibly replace CICID. Unlike CICID, the French President will supervise the Development Council, which is expected to meet at least twice a year to take strategic decisions on France’s development policy.
Within the government, two ministries jointly manage French development policy: the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs (MAE), led by Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, and the Ministry of the Economy and Finance (Finance Ministry), under Bruno Lemaire’s leadership. Since 2018, the MAE is in charge of coordinating a yearly report to the President and Prime Minister on the implementation of the planned ODA increases, liaising with other ministries concerned.
FRANCE'S DEVELOPMENT COOPERATION SYSTEM
The French Development Agency (AFD), currently headed by Director-General Rémy Rioux, is France’s implementing agency. AFD has a dual status as a public development agency and a development bank, with 85 country offices and 2,400 employees. AFD develops projects according to partner-country demands. It is responsible for the formulation, management, and supervision of projects. The MAE is consulted on and involved in various stages of policy development and project monitoring. In practice, AFD benefits from a large degree of autonomy to allocate funding to specific sectors depending on recipient countries’ requests. It receives funds through the MAE and the Ministry of Finance, but over half of its resources stem from bonds issued on international capital markets.
The French Development Agency (AFD) has a dual status as a public agency and a development bank.
In 2017, AFD made a record €10.4 billion (US$11.6 billion) in new commitments, a 10% increase compared to 2016. The government plans to further expand the agency’s financing capacity. According to the February 2018 CICID meeting, two-thirds of the ODA increase planned until 2022 will be channeled through AFD. The 2019 budget law allows the agency to develop projects mobilizing up to a total of €1 billion, paving the way for a strong increase in disbursements in the coming years.
In parallel, in 2016 AFD signed a partnership convention with the Deposits and Consignments Fund (CDC), France’s main public-investment institution. It aims to bring French policy and actions related to reaching the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in France and abroad under a single umbrella. The agreement foresees strengthened financing capacity for both institutions. To this end, an investment facility has been set up focusing on infrastructure. Initial financing from the CDC to the investment facility amounts to €500 million (US$564 million), topped up with €100 million contributed by the AFD.
Bilateral programming is steered by the supervision of the MAE and the Ministry of Economy and Finance and in collaboration with partner countries, embassies develop ‘Partnership Framework Documents’ (‘Documents Cadre de Partenariat’, or ‘DCPs’), detailing the work of all French actors involved in development programs in the partner country. They provide overall guidance for French cooperation over a period of three years for up to three priority sectors per country. Since 2011, DCPs are only mandatory for France’s 19 priority countries.
The French parliament’s two chambers, the National Assembly (Assemblée Nationale) and the Senate (Sénat), scrutinize, propose amendments to, and vote on the budget. Members of Parliament (MPs) can reallocate spending within budget lines but cannot change the budget lines’ overall amounts. They usually receive information on individual budget lines shortly before the vote, which limits their influence. However, MPs can influence overall ODA levels by allocating high amounts of extra-budgetary resources (resources that are not integrated within ministries' budget lines) to development cooperation. This happened in the negotiations on the 2016 and on the 2017 budget: MPs amended the government's draft budget to increase proceeds of the financial transaction tax allocated to development assistance. Similar proposals were put forward for the 2018 and 2019 budgets but were rejected by the majority of MPs.
Civil society organizations (CSOs) play an influential role in France’s development policy as advisory bodies. Coordination SUD is the biggest CSO umbrella organization, gathering 140 French development NGOs. Its board of directors meets annually with AFD’s director. In 2013, the government created a ‘National Council for Development and International Solidarity’ (CNDSI) gathering representatives of CSOs, labor unions, local authorities, research institutes, and MPs. The Council is chaired by the MAE and meets twice a year to debate issues regarding French development policy.
CSOs currently play a relatively minor role in implementing French ODA: they channeled 3% of bilateral ODA in 2017, well below the average among OECD donor countries (17%). However, this is likely to change: In the 2018 CICID conclusions, the government committed to double funding channeled through NGOs between 2017 and 2022.
- How is the French ODA budget structured?
Two main envelopes for France’s development budget make up the ‘ODA mission’
French ODA (€9.9 billion or US$8.8 billion in 2019) stems from two main sources: ODA included in the general budget (€6.2 billion, or US$5.5 billion) and ODA from other sources not included in the general budget (€3.8 billion or US$3.3 billion). The latter mainly includes contributions to the European Commission and multilateral organizations, funding generated through the financial transaction tax (FTT, €528 million in 2019), the airline ticket tax, and debt-relief mechanisms.
Overview: 2018 ODA budget
ODA from the general budget 6,170 6,955 Finance Ministry - program 110 1,089 1,228 01 - Multilateral economic and financial aid (mainly IFIs) 648 731 02 - Bilateral economic and financial aid, of which: 349 393 Transfers to AFD for loans 249 281 Technical assistance 31 35 General budget support 60 68 Administrative expenses 8 9 03- Compensation for debt relief (channeled through AFD and multilateral banks and funds) 92 104 MFA - program 209 2,061 2,323 02 - Bilateral cooperation, of which: 835 942 Transfers to AFD (bilateral grants, NGO funding) 410 462 C2D (AFD share) 52 59 Priority Solidarity Fund (FSP) 24 27 Other 349 394 05 - Voluntary multilateral contributions 194 219 07 - EDF 878 990 08 - Personnel 153 173 Other ministries 3,020 3,404 Higher education 1,113 1,255 Transfers from Treasury to AFD for loans (program 853) 388 437 Additional ODA for loans leveraged 200 225 Costs of hosting refugees 557 628 Others (amount of ODA coming from other relevant programs) 762 859 Extra-budgetary ODA sources 3,768 4,248 EC contributions 1,587 1,789 C2D (state share) 344 388 Loans transactions (IMF, IDA, GCF) 203 229 Debt relief (state) 379 427 Other (local and regional authorities, water agencies, AFD non-state resources) 517 583 Airline ticket tax 210 237 FTT 528 595 Total ODA 9,938 11,202
The two largest ODA programs of the general budget are included in what is called the ‘ODA mission’: Program 110 of the Ministry of the Economy and Finance (Finance Ministry) and program 209 of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ (MAE).
- The Finance Ministry’s Program 110 (‘economic and financial development aid’) includes three main funding envelopes: 1) contributions to international financial institutions (IFIs), 2) bilateral assistance (mostly for loans managed by the French Development Agency [AFD]), and 3) transfers to AFD and IFIs to reimburse them for funds lost when debt managed by them was cancelled.
- MAE’s Program 209 (‘solidarity with developing countries’) encompasses four main funding envelopes: 1) the bilateral-cooperation envelope, which mainly includes transfers to AFD (for bilateral grants, funding to CSOs, and technical assistance), Debt-Reduction Development Contracts (C2D), the MAE-managed Priority Solidarity Fund (FSP); 2) envelopes for voluntary multilateral contributions to UN agencies and other multilaterals; 3) contributions to the European Development Fund (EDF); and 4) staff costs.
For 2019, allocations to these two lines (‘programs’) together increased by €458 million (US$516 million) compared to 2018, or 17%, to reach €3.2 billion (US$3.6 billion).
Other ODA-relevant programs sourced from the general budget include the Finance Ministry’s Program 853, which is used to transfer additional funds to the AFD, allowing it to provide loans with concessional terms for partner countries. AFD thus receives the funds that it uses to issue loans mainly from the Finance Ministry’s programs 110 and 853.
In 2019, the French government allocated 32% of the revenues from its national FTT – a tax introduced in 2012 to generate more resources for solidarity purposes including climate programs – amounting to an estimated €528 million (US$595 million). In past years, the share of the FTT proceeds allocated to development was higher, reaching 50% in 2018, notably as a result of strong parliamentary support in 2016 and 2017. In its 2019 budget, the government has decreased this share but compensated the drop with an increase in core budgetary ODA resources.
- What are important milestones in France's annual budget process?
Amounts allocated to main ODA budget lines are determined in June and July
- The Finance Ministry defines general budgetary orientations: From February to April, administrative and technical staff within the Ministry of the Economy and Finance (Finance Ministry) and other ministries develop the economic forecast and measures to define the general orientation of budget policy.
- Prime Minister sends out budget guidelines: Around May each year, the Prime Minister sends three-year budget guidelines (‘lettres de cadrage’) to each Ministry. These guidelines include general orientations of the budget, such as objectives regarding budget deficit, staff payrolls, or major spending cuts or increases.
- MAE starts developing its budget request: In parallel, around May/June, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MAE) starts developing its budget request for the following year, including for the development budget. It does so in consultation with the Finance Ministry. Negotiations and arbitrations between the different ministries take place.
- Debate on budgetary orientations: From June until mid-July, the government presents its general budgetary guidelines for the next year to Parliament, and the ‘debate on budgetary orientation’ takes place. This debate provides an opportunity for CSOs to advocate for funding increases for ODA.
- PM sends expenditure ceilings: Usually by mid-July, the Prime Minister (PM) presents expenditure ceilings (‘lettres-plafond’) to each Minister, fixing the maximum allocation for each major public-policy area. This includes funding for the ‘ODA mission’ (‘Politique francaise en faveur du développement’), jointly managed by the MAE (Program 209) and the Finance Ministry (Program 110).
- Ministries review their budget requests and decide allocations: From mid-July to October, the MAE and the Finance Ministry review their ODA budget requests in light of the expenditure ceiling and develop budget documents. Allocations to the two main ODA budget lines, programs 209 (MAE) and 110 (Finance Ministry), and budget lines within these programs, are decided upon during this period.
- Parliament examines, amends, and votes on budget bill: In October, the government submits its draft budget bill to parliament, which has 70 days to examine, amend, and vote on it. Members of Parliament only receive information on individual budget lines shortly before the vote, which inhibits any real influencing at that stage. In 2015 and 2016, however, Members of Parliament were able to influence budget allocations to development by voting to increase the amount of the financial transaction tax dedicated to development. After being voted on by the plenary, the budget is signed by the President before Christmas.