France’s development policy is implemented both at European level and through bilateral and multilateral instruments, under multi-year, sector-based and cross-cutting strategies that guide the actions of the government’s agencies.
Bilateral official development assistance (ODA), paid directly to developing countries, plays an essential role in French development policy, representing 61% (€6.6 billion) of France’s total assistance in 2019.
Bilateral ODA is largely delivered by the government’s agencies, and particularly the Agence Française de Développement (AFD). The AFD offers both grants and soft loans. Through its Proparco subsidiary and the Investment and Support Fund for Businesses in Africa (FISEA), it also provides loans and guarantees, in addition to making equity investments to support the private sector in developing countries.
Part of bilateral ODA is delivered by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, through the Solidarity Fund for Innovative Projects (FSPI), technical expertise, crisis management and exit funding, programmed food assistance, local government support funds for volunteer and decentralized cooperation programmes and grants awarded to students from developing countries.
The Ministry of the Economy provides soft Treasury loans, the private sector study and aid fund (FASEP), comprehensive budgetary assistance and debt reduction.
Some of France’s bilateral ODA implemented by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs and the AFD transits through civil society organizations. Decentralized cooperation projects led by local government bodies also contribute to France’s bilateral ODA.
French bilateral assistance is mainly made up of:
• project assistance (37% in 2019, or €2.5 billion);
• budgetary support (15% of bilateral ODA, or €1.014 billion);
• technical assistance (8% of bilateral ODA, or €560 million).
African countries are the primary recipients of French bilateral assistance, totalling 40% (€2.7 billion) in 2019, including 29% (€2 billion) for sub-Saharan Africa.
The Solidarity Fund for Innovative Projects (FSPI), supporting civil society, francophonie and human development, is the key instrument of the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs for development assistance and soft power.
Projects can be promoted nationally or regionally, and enable embassies to carry out innovative, high-impact and high-visibility actions for the benefit of local people.
These projects, lasting 2 years at most, can each receive an amount of up to €1 million, under certain conditions. When completed, they have the potential to be replicated on a larger scale by a local body or by other development stakeholders.
The 195 projects financed in 2020 (those approved in 2019 and 2020), spread across more than 70 eligible countries, covered a very wide range of themes:
• Gender equality;
• Education and training;
• Civil society support.
With a budget increased to €70 million in 2021, the new call for FSPI projects has been launched. Implementation of selected projects could begin in the first half of 2021.
Characteristics of FSPI projects:
• Local actors initiating and leading the project;
• Project supporting human development (education, agriculture, health, etc.);
• Swift disbursement and impact, with immediate benefits for local communities;
• A foundational role opening the way for other development actors;
• A final project evaluation by external experts.
Multilateral assistance enables France to multiply the impact of its assistance to protect global public goods, with coordinated action from all countries.
It accounted for 39% of France’s overall official development assistance in 2019 (€4.3 billion). More than half of this was delivered through our contribution to European assistance (€2.3 billion).
Multilateral assistance is an essential complementary tool, alongside bilateral ODA. It enables France to augment the impact of its assistance by pooling resources and to fully exercise its soft power and responsibility in the international system. In this way, France contributes to international solidarity in regions and sectors where it does not have bilateral operations.
France invests in the multilateral development banks and contributes to their associated development funds, such as the International Development Association, the World Bank’s “soft loans” agency.
It finances the specialized agencies of the United Nations, “vertical” funds such as the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the Green Climate Fund, and the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), which finance projects related to global issues.
In 2017, France established a multilateral assistance strategy, which sets out France’s priorities in multilateral forums and highlights how to optimize the links between bilateral and multilateral assistance and limit aid fragmentation.
The European Union and its 27 Member States provide approximately 46% of global ODA. The European Union is the world’s leading donor, contributing €66.8 billion in 2020, up 15% compared with 2019. This accounts for 0.50% of the gross national income (GNI) of the European Union and its Member States (0.41% in 2019), which brings them significantly closer to the objective of dedicating 0.70% of collective GNI to ODA by 2030.
The 27 Member States of the European Union launched the “Team Europe” approach in response to the COVID-19 crisis. Team Europe brings together the EU institutions, Member States, including their development agencies and financing institutions, as well as the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). This new coordinated approach helps provide greater support to partner countries and ensures quicker, more effective and more visible action against the pandemic. More than €40 billion has been distributed under the mechanism to date.
French contribution to European development assistance
France works to ensure complementarity between its bilateral, multilateral and European action.
Under the current 2021-2027 Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), the European Union created a new unique instrument for external action, the Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument – Global Europe (NDICI). With a budget of approximately €80 billion over 7 years, it combines the majority of European development financing instruments, including the European Development Fund (EDF). Since 2021, the French contribution to European ODA has passed solely through its contribution to the EU’s general budget.
In 2020, approximately 20% of France’s total ODA (€2.5 billion) was allocated to the European Union’s cooperation instruments, such as the European Development Fund (EDF) and other external assistance instruments directly financed by the European Union’s general budget, which have since been merged to form the NDICI – Global Europe instrument.
Since 2011, the EU and its Member States have used joint programming to develop their coordination and cooperation in development assistance, when the situation of the partner countries allows.
Joint programming involves drawing up a joint analysis, which is then used to create a joint cooperation strategy between the EU, Member States, their cooperation agencies and a partner country. The process results in a joint programming document. Since 2011, 81 partner countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the European Neighbourhood have been involved.
France is committed to joint programming. At the Interministerial Committee for International Cooperation and Development (CICID) meeting on 30 November 2016, it agreed that it would not create bilateral documents with States involved in joint programming, unless justified by exceptional circumstances.
The Act on inclusive development and combating global inequalities, adopted in 2021, reaffirms this commitment. Additionally, the new NDICI – Global Europe instrument makes joint programming the preferred approach for country programming.
Increasing visibility and effectiveness with the “Team Europe” approach
The European Union and its Member States coordinated their efforts to create a “Team Europe” approach in response to the COVID-19 crisis in partner countries. In the changing geopolitical environment, this approach aims to make the EU a leader on the international stage and help it protect its interests and promote its values.
The Team Europe Initiatives are the flagbearers of the Team Europe approach
They were initiated by the European Commission as part of the NDICI 2021 2027 programming. The initiatives are more flexible and less formal than Joint Programming. They embody the Team Europe approach, with the goal of strengthening the visibility and coordination of European ODA. These initiatives boost the impact of European ODA by identifying key sectors and development projects to address the priorities of partner countries.
Updated: February 2022