After years of financial scarcity, France increased its development aid budget for the second consecutive year. However, uncertainties persist over its aid trajectory over the next five years. EURACTIV France reports.
Between 2015 and 2016, French development aid rose slightly for the second consecutive year, according to a report by NGO One Data. An upward curve that has boosted official development assistance in France to 0.38% of the country’s gross national income.
But despite this, “France’s Overseas Development Assistance remains significantly lower than the level of aid registered at the start of former President François Hollande’s mandate, that is to say 0.42%,” said the report.
Despite budget cuts announced in early July, President Emmanuel Macron has renewed his commitment to increasing official development assistance to 0.55% of gross national income by 2022.
The downward trend in French aid is particularly criticised by civil society, as both Germany and the United Kingdom have significantly increased their aid over the same period, reaching the international target of 0.7% of GNI.
An announced increase
The future of French aid will feature in budget debates that will begin in October. President Macron has repeatedly announced his will to increase development assistance to 0.55% of GNI by 2022. An objective that leaves civil society dubious.
“France must be up to the international stature to which it aspires. Emmanuel Macron has pledged to increase aid by 2018 to reach 0.55% of GNI by 2022. This must be reflected in the draft finance law for 2018,” explained the director of One France, Friederike Röder.
“France has the opportunity to catch up with its European partners, we hope that it will seize it and we will remain mobilised to ensure it,” Röder said.
The upward trajectory promised by the French President should, therefore, begin in 2018, reaching the 0.55% promised by 2022. But the overall budget cuts announced in recent weeks seem to run counter to this objective.
On September 5, after a meeting with NGOs, the French president once again committed to an “unconditional” increase in the ADP and the 0.55% mark. “What I understand from this commitment is that it will be applied regardless of the French economic growth,” says Friederike Röder.
Poorest countries under-served
At global level, development aid has risen in recent years, reaching $140.1 billion in 2016, an increase of 7.4% compared to 2015. Despite this, the report points to several biases that prevent international aid from achieving its objectives.
In Europe, the issue is the allocation of aid to the refugee crisis. “In 2016, ODA donor countries allocated $15.4 billion in aid to refugees and asylum-seekers in their own countries, up 27% from the previous year,” said the report.
In some European countries, such as Germany and Italy, which are at the front line in the management of the refugee crisis, hospitality costs have even exceeded the amount of ODA allocated to Africa, the report said.
In addition, assistance to the poorest countries continues to decline. Indeed, the least developed countries (LDCs) are receiving an increasingly smaller share of global aid. Between 2013 and 2016, aid to those countries decreased from 32% to 28%.
In France, the share of aid granted to LDCs has followed the global trend and decreased. Less than a quarter of France’s aid now goes to the poorest countries in the world.
“To be effective, aid must reach those who need it most,” reminded Friederike Röder.