France’s U-Turn on Development: More Money on Aid Despite Budget Cuts

Written by | Wednesday, July 26th, 2017

France’s Emmanuel Macron is readying an overhaul of the country’s development policy by increasing official overseas development assistance (ODA) budget to 0.55% of gross national income (GNI) by 2022 despite the cuts in other areas. Such a boost in development budget would bring France on track to reaching the OECD’s target of 0.7% by 2030, which was one of President Macron’s campaign promises. The 0.7% goal benchmark was set by the developed economies of the OECD years ago but so far only the UK and Sweden have reached it.

The French President and the First Lady met on Monday (24 July) with the singer of the Irish rock band U2 Bono who founded the international nonprofit ONE. President Macron used the meeting to reiterate its promise to boost France’s aid budget during his mandate. “International aid for the most vulnerable countries, particularly in Africa, will increase during this mandate to reach 0.55% of national wealth in 2022,” the Élysée Palace announced.

President Macron’s decision on development aid budget represents a major U-turn following some contradictory statements on ODA by the government as well as deep cuts in France’s 2018 state budget. These cuts total about €4.5bn and are meant to bring the French deficit under the Eurozone’s 3% threshold; a goal that France has already missed a few times. When the boost in the ODA budget was announced, the ministry of foreign affairs was expected to find savings of €282m, 50% of which was due to come from the ODA budget.

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