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France encouraged to spend more on official development assistance


Monday, 08 October 2018

France encouraged to spend more on official development assistance

While France seems to be in the process of getting back on track with regard to international solidarity, some ambiguities in the 2019 budget are a cause of concern for NGOs. EURACTIV France reports. Will France return to being among the best performers in the field of development assistance? As the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) delivered its report on French development policy between 2013 and 2018, the organisation welcomed the turnaround by the French government. It was satisfied to see the commitments by French President Emmanuel Macron to increase development aid. In fact, François Hollande’s former economy minister had promised in his presidential campaign to increase the amount of development aid to 0.55% of national wealth by the end of his mandate in 2022. This is an ambitious objective, which has been repeatedly reinstated since 2017. In early September, Jean-Yves Le Drian, the minister for Europe and foreign affairs, announced a vast renewal of French development assistance, including a €1 billion increase in assistance. Moreover, new legislation on guidelines and planning will be submitted to the parliament in 2019. This is because, following five years of reductions between 2012 and 2016, French assistance has fallen being equivalent to 0.45% of national wealth to 0.38%. This law should therefore align the objectives of the French policy with those of the sustainable development goals and set the assistance policy in stone. On the funding side, while an initial increase occurred in 2017, there remains a long way to go to meet the stated objectives. Out of the €1 billion additional euros announced in early September, only a small proportion would indeed be released in 2019. “These are commitment appropriations which are intended to be distributed over several years. Therefore, it is not in fact a further €1 billion for public development assistance in 2019,” Oxfam underlined in a statement. Moreover, the introduction of the finance bill for 2019 did not result in the expected boost to development assistance. France has proposed an increase of only 4% for the mission of public development assistance in 2019, representing €130 million.