France

At a glance

ODA Funding trends

  • France is the fifth-largest Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC) donor country, spending US$15.4 billion (current prices; US$14.7 billion in constant 2020 prices) on official development assistance (ODA) in 2021, or 0.52% of the country’s gross national income (GNI).
  • France’s development budget for 2022 is set at €14.6 billion (US$16.7 billion), representing 0.56% of the country’s projected GNI. This suggests that France has reached, or even slightly surpassed its target of 0.55% ODA/GNI in 2022, repeatedly pledged by President Emmanuel Macron, and laid out by a new development law adopted in 2021.
  • France's ODA has been increasing since 2014 and grew by 5% between 2020 and 2021 (US$650 million in real terms). This increase was driven by higher levels of bilateral and multilateral grants, increased private sector instruments, and vaccine donations, that combined, offset a decrease in bilateral lending and in-donor refugee costs.

Strategic priorities

  • France’s development policy priorities are: 1) international stability, 2) climate, 3) education, 4) gender equality, and 5) global health.
  • In its overall foreign policy, France prioritizes ‘security’ and ‘combating terrorism’ with a strong focus on the ‘Sahel’ region where development projects accompany France’s military and political interventions. The war in Ukraine, along with its humanitarian implications, has also refocused some of France’s foreign policy priorities.  
  • Geographically, France takes a differentiated approach to allocating its ODA, providing grants mainly to 19 countries, almost all of which are in ‘sub-Saharan Africa’ (SSA; meaning the countries of Eastern, Western, Central, and Southern Africa, as designated by the African Union), and providing ODA loans to emerging economies.

Outlook

  • On April 24, 2022, incumbent President Macron was re-elected for a second five-year term. In May 2022, Macron nominated his new cabinet under Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne. A new and enlarged government was announced following legislative elections in which Macron’s coalition failed to obtain an absolute majority.
  • Under the new 2021 development law, France committed to a 0.7% ODA/GNI target by 2025. To achieve this aim, the law outlines a clear financial trajectory for the following years, with intermediate targets of 0.55% ODA/GNI in 2022, 0.61% in 2023, and 0.66% in 2024.
  • During his second term, Macron is likely to continue promoting multilateralism and engaging France on global issues, while taking steps to renew the nature and modalities of France’s partnership with the African continent. With the Russian war in Ukraine dominating the political agenda, France will likely focus multilateral engagement on increased defense and security cooperation, energy independence, as well as humanitarian assistance, including to countries affected by the global food supply crisis.

 

Policy Priorities

Education, climate change, and global health are focus areas; security concerns shape priorities

In 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. In line with these priorities, the CICID committed to strengthening France’s efforts in 1) international stability, 2) climate change, 3) education, 4) gender equality, and 5) global health. These sectoral priorities were reaffirmed in the 2021 development law. The bill sets three objectives for France’s ODA:

  1. The fight against poverty, malnutrition, and global inequalities, and the promotion of education and health;
  2. The promotion of human rights, in particular of children, the rule of law and democracy, and Francophonie; and
  3. The protection of global public goods, in particular in the context of climate change.

In addition, gender equality has become a cross-cutting objective, in line with France’s "feminist foreign policy". The 2021 development law also reaffirms France’s geographical priorities with a focus on the African continent, the Sahel region in particular, and the ‘Mediterranean zone.’

Within its overall foreign policy, France focuses on fighting ‘terrorism’ and increasingly aims to use development cooperation to leverage peace and stability in partner countries. This is reflected in France’s focus on the Sahel region in Africa, where development projects accompany the country’s military and political interventions. In July 2017, French President Emmanuel Macron launched the Sahel Alliance (Alliance Sahel) — a joint initiative of France, Germany, the EU, 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, and Niger). In addition, decision-makers are increasingly cognizant of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and its development and security implications for partner countries, notably food security in African countries.

France is also focused on projects at the intersection of humanitarian assistance and development. By 2022, the government plans to dedicate €500 million (US$560 million) per year to urgent humanitarian action and post-crisis stabilization. In March 2017, France launched the Minka Peace and Resilience Fund, a crisis response facility managed by the French Development Agency (AFD). Between 2017 and 2021, AFD committed €863 million (US$983 million) through the Minka Fund to countries in crisis, post-crisis, or in otherwise vulnerable situations.

Climate action is one of France’s longstanding priorities. At COP26 in November 2021, France pledged US$7 billion in annual climate finance to support partner countries between 2021 - 2025, topping up its 2020 pledge by an additional US$1.2 billion. One-third of this finance will be directed toward climate adaptation. This increase will be achieved in part through an increase in the AFD’s annual budget allocation. In 2021, the AFD committed €6 billion (US$6.8 billion) to climate-related programs, surpassing its target of allocating 50% of its financing to climate-related programming (58%). France hosted the Green Climate Fund’s (GCF) first replenishment conference in 2019 and pledged €1.5 billion (US$1.7 billion) to the organization for 2020 - 2023. During the eighth replenishment of the Global Environment Fund (GEF) in April 2022, France announced a record contribution amounting to US$360 million (a 40% increase compared to its previous commitment), allotting 36% of its pledge for biodiversity protection. France also hosted the Finance in Common Summit in 2020, bringing together public development banks to strengthen partnerships and reinforce commitments for climate change action. During his 2022 electoral campaign, Macron reaffirmed his commitment to prioritizing the fight against climate change as the central issue of his second term.

Macron has elevated global education on France’s development agenda. France co-hosted the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) Financing Conference in Dakar in 2018 and recently pledged €333 million (US$379 million) to GPE for 2021-2025, earmarking half for the promotion of girls’ education, as announced during the July 2021 Generation Equality Forum (GEF). Funding for the GPE is reported as bilateral ODA.

Gender equality is a cross-cutting priority of the current French government. As host of the 2019 G7 Summit, France committed to adopting a ‘feminist diplomacy’ to promote women's rights globally. In line with this commitment, the 2021 development law instituted gender equality as a cross-cutting objective of French development policy, stipulating that 75% of programs financed by ODA should have gender equality as a principal or significant objective, and 20% as a principal objective by 2025. In July 2021, France co-hosted the GEF in Paris, which mobilized new pledges worth US$40 billion for gender equality for the next five years by participating donors. At the GEF, France’s new commitments included €100 million (US$114 million) for women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), among which €90 million (US$ 103 million) was allocated to UNFPA Supplies; this commitment was coupled with France’s intention to channel €250 million (US$285 million) to SRHR via the AFD over five years.

Global health remains a key focus, reiterated by the 2021 development law, and French President Emmanuel Macron has positioned France as a leader in the global COVID-19 response, notably during the launch of the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A). France is an important player in global health, promoting a renewed global health architecture with the World Health Organization (WHO) at its center, focusing on key priorities including strengthening health systems, the fight against communicable diseases, maternal and child health, and the extension of universal health coverage.

France’s funding in this sector is largely channeled through multilateral organizations, with core contributions to multilateral organizations amounting to 52% and earmarked funding to 4% in 2020. France hosted the sixth replenishment of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Global Fund) in 2019 and pledged €1.3 billion (US$1.4 billion), including an additional US$60 million as a final push to help reach the replenishment’s US$14 billion target. During the seventh replenishment in September 2022, France is expected make major contributions. France is also a large contributor to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance (Gavi), and Unitaid, an agency supporting global health innovations with emphasis on HIV, tuberculosis (TB), and malaria. During the Vaccine Global Summit in June 2020, France pledged €250 million (US$285 million) for Gavi’s 2021-2026 period and €100 million (US$114 million) for the COVID-19 Advance Market Commitment (COVAX AMC), bringing France’s total pledges to US$665 million for the period; this includes existing pledges, topped up by an additional €100 million (US$114 million) to COVAX AMC in June 2021. During the Second Global COVID-19 Summit in May 2022, France pledged an additional €100 million (US$114 million) to COVAX AMC, bringing France’s total pledge to Gavi to US$783 million for the 2021-2025 period, including existing pledges. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, France has been more supportive of WHO: France’s contributions to WHO doubled from US$73 million in 2018-2019 to US$141 million in 2020-2021. In February 2022, France signed a new €50 million (US$57 million) contribution agreement with WHO supporting the ACT-A Health Systems and Response Connector to strengthen health systems to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

ODA Breakdown

France channels most of its ODA bilaterally but is also a strong supporter of multilateral organizations

France delivered 70% of its official development assistance (ODA) bilaterally in 2020, above the average of 58% among members of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC). Of this, 80% was disbursed through public sector institutions (DAC average: 46%), largely due to the significant role of the French Development Agency (AFD) in France’s development cooperation. The AFD has dual status as both an implementing agency and a development bank.

In 2021, the AFD made €12.2 billion (US$13.8 billion) in new commitments (only part of which qualifies as ODA according to the OECD). The government plans to further expand the agency’s financing capacity with planned ODA increases. Following implementation of the 2021 development law, bilateral ODA is set to represent 65% of France’s total ODA on average between 2022 - 2025. This may result in a larger budget for France’s implementing agencies, mainly benefitting the AFD.

France’s largest bilateral funding area is education; refugee costs are increasing

In 2020, France’s bilateral ODA stood at US$13 billion, a 30% increase from 2019. The largest share went to education, constituting 12% of French bilateral ODA (US$1.6 billion). However, in line with OECD reporting practices — the bilateral ODA figures reported by France also include a range of other items categorized as grants that do not represent actual transfers from France to a recipient country. Bilateral funding for education is one example: In 2020, 64% (US$726 million) of France’s bilateral ODA for education covered the costs of students from partner countries studying in France, meaning that most of these funds did not go to projects implemented in partner countries.

In 2020, France spent 9% (US$1.2 billion) of its bilateral ODA on hosting refugees, a significant increase over the last five years from 2016 levels (US$507 million). Funding for government and civil society stood at 9% (US$1.1 billion), followed by infrastructure 7% (US$963 million).

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France provides much of its bilateral ODA as loans because loans provide a relatively easy way to increase overall ODA while minimizing impact on actual budget transfers (57%, far higher than the DAC average of 11%), with the share of loans within the overall ODA budget significantly increasing compared to 2019 (46%). The government has committed to increasing the share of grants within its ODA; the 2021 development law stipulates that grants should make up 70% of bilateral ODA over the 2022-2025 period. Part of the AFD’s overall funding increases will serve to increase the proportion of grants within its portfolio. In 2020, grants made up 15% of AFD’s commitments, including debt-relief operations and budget support. Currently, however, AFD provides the vast share of its funding as loans (80% in 2020), of which not all qualify as ODA. The remaining share of AFD’s funding was provided as loans and equity investments/financial guarantees.

France focuses its grants on the Sahel region and its loans on middle-income countries

In 2020, France allocated 30% of its bilateral ODA to ‘sub-Saharan Africa’ (SSA; meaning the countries of Eastern, Western, Central, and Southern Africa according to the African Union’s designations) above the DAC average of 21%. This focus is likely to continue as France increasingly prioritizes the Sahel region (see France’s ‘Policy priorities’). Facing increasing criticism from civil society and youth actors in African countries, visible for instance during a confrontation between the French President and African activists at the Africa-France Summit in October 2021, France intends to renew its relationship with the continent. France seeks to reshape the narrative around “development" and “international cooperation” but also to transform the modalities of intervention to support local actors more directly, for instance in R&D and global health (e.g., local production and manufacturing, local procurement, technology transfers) or democracy (e.g., launching the Innovation Fund for Democracy).

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France takes a differentiated approach to ODA depending on the partner country’s income level, providing loans primarily to emerging economies and grants to low-income economies.

France focuses its grants on 19 low- and middle-income countries (‘Pays Pauvres Prioritaires’, also known as ‘PPPs’), almost all in ‘sub-Saharan Africa’. These include Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, the Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, the Gambia, Guinea, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, and Togo. Except for Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and The Gambia, all were formerly colonized by France. Following the 2021 development law, France seeks to allocate at least half of all grants and two-thirds of AFD grants to these countries, while by 2025, priority countries should receive 25% of the country’s bilateral ODA.

France’s ODA loans focus on emerging economies. Because the majority of France’s ODA is delivered as loans, middle-income countries (MICs) receive the largest share of France’s bilateral ODA, amounting to 40% in 2020. All top-10 recipients of France’s bilateral ODA are middle-income countries (see figure).

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France is a strong contributor to multilaterals, with a focus on health

Core contributions to multilaterals account for 30% of France’s total ODA (US$5.5 billion in 2020), of which half are binding contributions to the European Union (52% in 2020). France’s multilateral engagement strategy for 2017-2021, ‘For a high-performing development assistance that serves the most vulnerable’, outlines three main objectives: 1) serve the most vulnerable, 2) align with the goals of the 2030 global agenda, and 3) support France’s vision of sustainable development.

Health is a key sector of France’s multilateral engagement, particularly when it comes to vertical funds. It is a strong supporter of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Global Fund), and hosted its 2020 - 2022 replenishment in October 2019. France is also a large contributor to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance (Gavi), and to Unitaid (see Sector: ‘Global health’). All three of these organizations are outlined as key partners in France’s 2017-2021 multilateral engagement strategy. Moreover, since the COVID-19 pandemic, France has been strong supporter of the World Health Organization (WHO) and its position in the global health architecture.

In addition to core contributions, France also provides 6% of its ODA to multilaterals as earmarked funding for specific sectors or countries (US$1.1 billion), which is reported to the OECD as bilateral ODA (DAC average: 14%).

Unless otherwise indicated, all data in this section is based on the cash-flow basis measurement system. For more information, see our Donor Tracker Codebook.

For more granular and up-to-date development finance data on France, including information on where and in which sectors it is spending both ODA and non-ODA funds, please consult the IATI d-portal. IATI is a reporting standard and platform on which organizations and governments voluntarily publish data on their development cooperation.

Main Actors

President plays a key role; decision-making is fragmented among several institutions

President Emmanuel Macron (re-elected on April 24, 2022) determines overall guidelines for development policy and makes high-level commitments. The Prime Minister, Elisabeth Borne (appointed in May 2022), chairs the Interministerial Committee for International Cooperation and Development (CICID), which sets long-term strategic priorities and meets on an ad-hoc basis. Unlike during Macron’s first five-year term, the new government appointed a Minister of State for Development, Francophonie, and International Partnership, Chrysoula Zacharopoulou, attached to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, to supervise, represent and implement France’s development policy.

According to a report submitted by Member of Parliament (MP) Hervé Berville in August 2018 to former Prime Minister Édouard Philippe on the modernization of France’s development assistance, France will establish a new coordination body, the Development Council, to complement the CICID. Unlike the CICID, the French President will supervise the Development Council to make 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 Catherine Colonna, and the Ministry of Economy and Finance (Finance Ministry), under Bruno Le Maire’s leadership. Since 2018, the MAE, liaising with other ministries, has overseen the coordination of a yearly report to the President and Prime Minister on the implementation of planned increases to official development assistance (ODA).

France Organisation Chart

The French Development Agency (AFD), currently led by Director-General Rémy Rioux, is France’s implementing agency. AFD has dual status as a public development agency and a development bank. It has 85 country offices and 3,000 employees. AFD develops projects according to partner-country demands and is responsible for the formulation, management, and supervision of projects. The MAE is consulted 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 from the MAE and the Ministry of Finance, but over half of its resources stem from bonds issued on international capital markets.  

Bilateral programming is steered by the MAE and the Ministry of Economy and Finance and in collaboration with partner countries. Embassies develop ‘Partnership Framework Documents’ (DCPs), detailing the work of all French actors involved in development programs in partner countries. They provide overall guidance for French development cooperation over three years for up to three priority sectors per country. DCPs are only mandatory for France’s 19 priority countries (see section “ODA Breakdown”).

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 large extra-budgetary resources (resources that are not integrated within ministries' budget lines) to development cooperation. This occurred during budget negotiations in 2016 and 2017; MPs amended the government's draft budget to increase proceeds from the financial transaction tax (FTT) allocated to development assistance. Similar proposals were put forward for the last three budgets but were rejected by a majority of MPs. The political configuration resulting from the June 2022 legislative election, which did not give an absolute majority to the President’s party, could give MPs a more powerful role. As a result, the government will need to mobilize actors outside its usual constituency to reach a majority and pass laws. Up to this point, France’s development policy has been supported by the whole of the French political landscape, as exemplified by the unanimous adoption of the 2021 development law in both chambers.

Civil society organizations (CSOs) play an influential role in France’s development policy as advisory bodies. ‘Coordination’ SUD is the largest CSO umbrella organization, convening more than 170 French development non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Its board of directors meets annually with the AFD’s director.

In 2013, the government created a ‘National Council for Development and International Solidarity’ (CNDSI) gathering representatives from 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: 5% of bilateral ODA was channeled through CSOs in 2020, an increase from 3% in 2017, and far below the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC) average of 19%. In the 2021 development law, however, the government committed to strengthening CSO influence, and doubling CSO-channeled funding accordingly.

Budget Structure

Two main envelopes for France’s development budget make up the ‘ODA mission’

French official development assistance (ODA; €14.6 billion, or US$16.7 billion in 2022) stems from the general budget (€10.3 billion, or US$11.8 billion) and other sources (€4.3 billion, or US$4.9 billion). The latter mainly includes debt relief mechanisms, contributions to the European Commission and multilateral organizations, and funding generated through the Solidarity Fund (€738 million, or US$840 million in 2022).

2020 ODA budget overview

€ millions

US$ millions

ODA from the general budget

10,349

11,793

1) ODA mission (excluding loans)

4,523

5,154

2) Bilateral AFD loans

2,228

2,539

3) Instruments supporting the private sector (loans, participations)

608

693

4) Others, notably:

2,990

3,407

Education fees & research

825

940

Refugee costs

859

979

Migrant health costs

189

215

Research

339

386

State Foreign action

375

427

ODA loans from resources outside of the general budget

272

310

1) Concessional loans from Treasury

130

148

2) Multilateral loans

142

162

Debt cancelations contracts (disbursements)

231

263

ODA through EU contributions

2,414

2,751

Debt relief

49

56

Solidarity Fund

738

841

TOTAL STATE BUDGET (budgetary effort)

14,053

16,014

Local authorities and water agencies

141

161

AFD Administrative fees

425

484

Total ODA

14,619

16,659

The two largest ODA programs of the general budget compose the ‘ODA mission’: ‘Program 110’ of the Ministry of the Economy and Finance (Finance Ministry) and ‘Program 209’ of the Ministry of European and Foreign Affairs (MEAE).

MAE’s ‘Program 209’ (‘Solidarity with developing countries’) is set at €2.9 billion (US$3.3 billion) for 2022, a 25% increase over 2021 levels. It encompasses four main funding envelopes:

1)      Bilateral-cooperation: €1.6 billion (US$1.8 billion), mainly including transfers to the French Development Agency (AFD) for bilateral grants, funding to CSOs, and technical assistance, Debt-Reduction Development Contracts (C2D), and the MAE-managed Priority Solidarity Fund (FSP);

2)      Voluntary multilateral contributions to United Nations (UN) agencies and other multilaterals: €850 million (US$969 million);

3)      Contributions to the European Development Fund (EDF): €487 million (US$555 million); and

4)      Staff costs: €158 million (US$180 million)

The Finance Ministry’s ‘Program 110’ (‘Economic and financial development assistance’) is set at €1.9 billion (US$2.1 billion) for 2022, a 26% increase over 2021 levels. Of this, there are three main funding envelopes:

1)      Multilateral assistance to international financial institutions (IFIs): €1.3 billion (US$1.5 billion);

2)      Bilateral assistance (mostly for loans managed by the AFD): €493 million (US$561 million); and

3)      Transfers to AFD and IFIs to reimburse funds lost in debt cancellation: €109 million (US$125 million).

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 concessional loans to partner countries. For 2022, €190 million (US$217 million) was allocated for this purpose. In 2022, ‘Program 365’ (‘Strengthening the capital of AFD’) was established to reinforce AFD funds set at €190 million (US$217 million).

The budget allocated to EU instruments will slightly increase from €1.9 billion (US$2.2 billion) in 2021 to €2.4 billion (US$2.8 billion) in 2022 as a result of the budgetization of the EDF.

Budget Process

Allocations for main ODA budget lines are determined in June and July

Budget process

 

  • The Ministry of the Economy and Finance (Finance Ministry) defines general budgetary orientations: From February to April, administrative and technical staff within the Finance Ministry and other ministries develop the economic forecasts and measures to define the general orientation of budget policy.
  • Prime Minister sends out budget guidelines: Around May, 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 the budget deficit, staff payrolls, and major spending changes.
  • MAE develops its budget request: In parallel, around May-June, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MAE) starts developing its budget request for the following year 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 to Parliament, and the ‘debate on budgetary orientation’ takes place. This provides an opportunity for CSOs to advocate for funding increases for official development assistance (ODA).
  • PM sends expenditure ceilings: Usually by mid-July, the Prime Minister 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 determine allocations: From mid-July to October, the MAE and the Finance Ministry review their ODA budget requests considering the expenditure ceiling and develop budget documents. Ministries decide on budget lines within ‘Program 209’ and ‘Program 110’ during this time.
  • Parliament examines, amends, and votes on the budget bill: In October, the government submits its draft budget bill to Parliament, which has 70 days to examine, amend, and vote on it. After being voted on by the plenary, the President signs the budget before December 25.