PARIS — France’s role as a world leader may be growing. The country wishes to shape the policies and direction of the global community and France’s position on development aid is one tactic to do so. But where has France stood on development aid in the past? And what does the new president, Emmanuel Macron, believe the country’s role to be?
According to France’s government website (last updated during President François Hollande’s term), France finances and partners with the E.U. on the development aid strategy, giving France a voice in global decisions. This portion of the development budget offers France influence in larger developmental projects that the country would not be able to fund on its own. Such projects target improving health, education and the environment, and some of the organizations that receive this line of funding are The World Bank, UNHCR and the GAVI Alliance.
France also gives aid independently from the E.U.
Sixty-five percent of all its development aid is given directly to recipient countries, and the goals for this funding are: achieving the Millennium Development Goals, improving economic development and increasing democratic governance.
France currently gives 0.38 percent of its GNI to development aid; during the Hollande administration in 2010, the development budget level was 0.5 percent. During the presidential campaign, Macron pledged to increase the development aid budget; however, the 2018 budget cuts €141 million. Most recently, Macron assured France he will reach the 2030 development aid target of 0.7 percent GNI.
Will France’s position on development aid change much under Macron?
Macron has a limited history of policy-making and said little on the issue during the campaign; instead, he focused on the economy and France’s global role.
Macron believes shaping the world policies in France’s favor involves cooperation with the E.U. and other allies. Acknowledging the strength of France’s export industry, Macron sees the benefits of open world trade. Such a view may suggest that he will continue with France’s endeavor to help build up developing nations’ economies.
Macron’s rhetoric was similar to the ideals in France’s previous development aid policies. He also brought on Jean-Yves Le Drian, former minister of defense, as his minister for Europe and foreign affairs. Le Drian was minister during the Hollande administration, when France argued that military assistance should be considered a form of development aid, but there is little evidence on whether Macron favors this opinion.
Macron has not been in office long, nor made a strong reputation. Yet much of the world views his election as a victory against isolationism. If he wishes to further France’s ambition to be a world leader into reality, then Macron must continue France’s position on development aid that it is a tool to lift others out of poverty — a belief which also makes the givers of aid a beacon of light.
– Mary Katherine Crowley