Last updated: December 20, 2022
ODA in Context
France was the 5th largest DAC donor country in volume in 2021.
When ranked by prioritization of development, France is the 7th largest donor in proportion, spending 0.52% of its GNI on ODA in 2021, compared to the DAC average of 0.32%.
France's ODA has been increasing since 2014 and grew 5% between 2020 - 2021 (US$650 million in real terms). In August 2021, France adopted the landmark ‘Programming Law for Solidarity-based Development and the Fight Against Global Inequalities’ (2021 development law), which modernized French development policy and set a financial target for ODA at 0.7% of GNI for 2025. To achieve this target, the law prescribes an increasing ODA/GNI trajectory with 0.55% in 2022, 0.61% in 2023, and 0.66% in 2024. France’s 2022 development budget of €14.8 billion (US$16.7 billion) or 0.55% of GNI was in line with the trajectory. The 2023 budget is projected to remain at 0,55% of GNI, lagging behind targets. In the 2023 budget, the expected increase of the ODA mission by €820 million (US$934 million) and an increase in French ODA contribution financed by the EU budget are offset by a reduction of ODA generated by in-donor refugee costs.
In recent years, France has pioneered innovative financing mechanisms, such as the FTT and an airline tax, to fund multilateral development priorities, generating funding for multilateral health and climate organizations. revenues raised by both the FTT and the airline tax mobilize €738 million (US$841 million) every year for multilateral assistance. France has taken the lead in advocating for the use of SDRs to increase overall ODA, committing to redirect 30% of its SDR allocation to the African continent.
France channels most of its ODA bilaterally but is also a strong supporter of multilateral organizations, above the DAC average (70% of ODA in 2020, compared to the DAC average of 58%). Compared to other DAC donors, France channels most bilateral ODA through public sector institutions (80% compared to 46%). This is due to the significant role of the AFD and its dual status as both an implementing agency and a development bank.
Following 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.
While France’s largest bilateral funding area is education, bilateral ODA figures reported by France include a range of items categorized as grants that do not represent actual transfers from France to a recipient country, such as hosting students from a partner country. Since 2016, an increasing proportion of French bilateral ODA has been spent on hosting refugees—9% in 2020—with priority areas of government, civil society, and infrastructure.
France provides the majority of its bilateral ODA as loans in an effort to minimize the impact on actual budget transfers while increasing ODA (57%, far above the DAC average of 11%). However, the 2021 development law stipulates that grants should make up 70% of bilateral ODA over the 2022-2025 period.
France’s approach to ODA is differentiated by the partner country’s income level, providing loans primarily to emerging economies and grants to low-income economies.
France focuses its grants on 19 LMICs (‘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. This list will be reviewed in February 2023 during the next CICID. The 2021 development law provides that by 2025, priority countries should receive 25% of the country’s bilateral ODA and at least half of all grants.
In 2020, France allocated 30% of its bilateral ODA to SSA, above the DAC average of 21%. This focus is likely to continue as France increasingly prioritizes the Sahel region.
France’s ODA loans focus on emerging economies, with MICs receiving the largest share—40%—in 2020.
Multilateral Spending and Commitments
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 and Gavi (including Covax, and Unitaid ). All three organizations are outlined as key partners in France’s 2017-2021 multilateral engagement strategy, which has not been renewed yet and will likely cover the 2022-2027 period. Moreover, since the COVID-19 pandemic, France has been strong supporter of the WHO and its position in the global health architecture.
Unless otherwise indicated, all data in this section is based on the grant-equivalent 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.
Politics & Priorities
France is a unitary, semi-presidential constitutional republic. Elections take place every five years. There are five main parties represented in the French Parliament: Renaissance, the Republicans, the Socialist Party, La France Insoumise, and the National Rally.
Emmanuel Macron of the ‘Renaissance’ party has been in power since May 2017. Macron won reelection in April 2022 in a runoff against Marine Le Pen of the National Rally, a right-wing populist party that saw a surge in popularity .
The 2023 budget plans to allocate 0.55% of GNI to ODA, a flat contribution compared to 2022 due to a decrease of refugee’s costs compensated by an increase of the ODA mission and France’s contribution to the EU. (Note, the Senate voted for a €200 million (US$228 million) decrease of the ODA mission, however, this is very unlikely to be approved by the Government. The final vote will take place by December 31.)
Excluding loans, the ODA mission will increase by €810 million (US$923 million) in 2023, representing one of the largest program increases in the budget.
In 2018, France’s CICID—the body in charge of setting the strategic direction of France’s development cooperation—defined France’s sectoral priorities, which include:
- International stability,
- Climate change,
- Gender equality, and
- Global health.
These were reaffirmed by the 2021 development law.
READ MORE ON FRANCE'S ODA ACROSS PRIORITY AREAS:
The 2021 development bill sets three objectives for France’s ODA:
- The fight against poverty, malnutrition, and global inequalities, and the promotion of education and health;
- The promotion of human rights, particularly children, the rule of law and democracy, and Francophonie; and
- 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 diplomacy".
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, notably in the Sahel region.
France maintains a high level of interest on global health and took an active part in the pandemic response, increasing its financial contributions to the sector, notably to the Global Fund, COVAX AMC, WHO, Unitaid, and the new Pandemic Fund.
Breaking the “cycle of panic and neglect"
France is increasingly committed to address environmental issues, such as climate change and the protection of biodiversity and on countries in crisis.
Tracking Commitments at COP27
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. Recently, it has particularly emphasized food security as part of its humanitarian efforts.
The 2021 development law also reaffirmed France’s geographical priorities with a focus on the African continent, the Sahel region in particular, and the ‘Mediterranean zone.’
After facing increasing criticism from civil society and youth actors in African countries, France seeks to reshape the narrative around “development" and “international cooperation” and 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).
Like most EU countries, France has been providing substantial political and financial support to Ukraine since the full-scale invasion by Russia in February 2022.
The 2021 development law also reaffirms France’s geographical priorities with a focus on the Sahel region and the ‘Mediterranean zone.’
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. France notably advocates for more support to developing countries facing multiple health, climate, energy and economic crises, promoting a reallocation of Special Drawing Rights. In June 2023, it will convene the “Conference for the Renewal of the Financial Pact with the Global South” to improve their fiscal space and reduce the adverse impact of increasing debt burdens.
Advocating for SDR Reallocation
French ODA stems from two main sources: the general budget and other sources not included in the general budget. The latter mainly includes debt relief mechanisms, contributions to the European Commission and multilateral organizations, and funding generated through the FTT (€528 million, or US$602 million, in 2023) and the airline ticket tax (€210 million, or US$239 million, in 2023). An official projection of France’s total ODA budget for 2023 has not been published yet. The 2023 budget indicates that the total ODA is projected to remain at 0.55% of GNI, thus not increasing in line with the financial trajectory set by the 2021 development law. This is likely due to a reduction of ODA generated by in-donor refugee costs, which counterbalances the expected increase of the ODA mission by €820 million (US$934 million) and an increase in French ODA contribution financed by the EU budget.
The two largest ODA programs of the general budget compose the ‘:abbrODA mission’: ‘Program 110’ of the Finance Ministry and ‘Program 209’ of the MEAE.
The MEAE’s ‘Program 209’ (‘Solidarity with developing countries’) is set at €3.4 billion (US$3.9 billion) for 2023, a 19% increase over 2022 levels. It encompasses four main funding envelopes:
- Bilateral spending: €2.1 billion (US$2.4 billion), increasing by 25% compared to 2022, driven by increasing transfers to the AFD (for bilateral grants, funding to CSOs, and technical assistance), and a doubling of funding for fragility and crisis management; other spending lines include the Debt-Reduction Development Contracts (C2D), and the MEAE -managed FSP;
- Multilateral contributions to UN agencies and other multilaterals: €825 million (US$940 million);
- Contributions to the EDF: €374 million (US$426 million); and
- Staff costs: €161 million (US$183 million).
The Finance Ministry’s ‘Program 110’ (‘Economic and financial development assistance’) is set at €2.3 billion (US$2.7 billion) for 2023, a 26% increase over 2022 levels, driven mainly by multilateral spending. It includes three main funding envelopes:
- Multilateral assistance to IFIs: €1.7 billion (US$1.9 billion), increasing by 33% compared to 2022;
- Bilateral assistance (mostly for loans managed by AFD and technical cooperation): €549 million (US$625 million); and
- Transfers to AFD and IFIs to reimburse them for funds lost when debt managed by them was canceled: €116 million (US$132 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 AFD, allowing it to provide concessional loans to partner countries. For 2023, €150 million (US$171 million) has been allocated to this program. ‘Program 365’ (‘Strengthening the capital of AFD’) reinforce the funds of AFD and is set at €350 million (US$399 million) in 2023. A portion of the debt forgiven through C2Ds, implemented by the Finance Ministry and AFD, along with additional partner countries, is allocated to sectors related to development, such as health and agriculture. For 2023, €33 million (US$37million) was allocated for C2D contracts under the ‘Program 209’.
Debt cancellation contracts and debt relief have recently played an important role within French ODA. France has made a strong commitment to favor debt relief to LICs and MICs within a bilateral or multilateral framework. France will host a head of state level summit in June 2023 in Paris to define a new global financial pact with the South, climate finance, debt, and SDRs are set to feature on the agenda.
- Allocations for 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 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.
- MEAE develops its budget request: In parallel, around May-June, the MEAE 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 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 MEAE (‘Program 209’) and the Finance Ministry (‘Program 110’).
- Ministries review their budget requests and determine allocations: From mid-July to October, the MEAE 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.
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