French government approves new legal framework for development aid

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The French government has adopted a draft law outlining development aid policy priorities but failed to clarify how it will be financed.

On 11 December, the French government adopted a draft law on the orientation and programming of development policy and international solidarity.

The draft law, presented by the French deputy minister for development, Pascal Canfin, sets the path of French public policy on aid. Its priorities include:

  • The fight against poverty and its impact on health, education or nutrition;
  • Preservation of the planet, notably through the fight against climate change;
  • Promotion of the values of democracy, rule of law, human rights, gender equality, social and environmental responsibility of companies and decent labour.

This programming law focuses on priority regions: sub-Saharan Africa and the southern shore of the Mediterranean should get 85% of French financial aid for development.

Another novelty of the law is the creation of a national council for development and international solidarity, a forum where all stakeholders will be able to exchange views.

This new authority replaces the former Haut conseil de la coopération international (high council for international cooperation), abolished by former President Nicolas Sarkozy in 2008.

The goal of this draft law is to open a debate on development aid policy, which was until now limited to parliamentary discussions on the public credits allocated during the annual examination of the draft law on finances.

“The Parliament … will have the opportunity to debate about its principles and orientations and to fully exercise its control and assessment role," the national council of ministers' conclusions read.

“The adoption of this draft law remains generally positive, it’s an important step toward the democratic appropriation of this public aid given that MPs will debate it,” said Christian Reboul of Oxfam.

Concretely, MPs will not only be able to amend the upcoming draft law, they will only be able to assess the development policy every two years on the basis of a report drafted by the government.

Finally, a number of indicators will allow them to assess yearly the results of French development policy.

No budgetary programming

Despite the progress, the draft law does not foresee any budgetary programming. “No provision in the report or the draft law is foreseen and there is a lack of predictability of the budget allocations," Coordination Sud, which gathers all national NGOs dealing with development, said in an analysis.

“The main commitment of France in terms of financing development and fight against extreme poverty is not in the draft law,” the anti-poverty NGO One said in a statement. The NGO also called for 0.7% of the GDP to be allocated to development aid.

The text should now be approved by the two houses of the French Parliament in the first quarter of 2014.

Timeline: 
  • First trimestre 2014 : draft law to be examined by parliament
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