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Interministerial International Cooperation and Development Committee (CICID

Published on August 6, 2013
Statement by M. Jean-Marc Ayrault, Prime Minister

Paris, July 31, 2013

I convened the Interministerial International Cooperation and Development Committee. The meeting was very substantive and longer than expected.

The committee was created in 1998 by my predecessor Lionel Jospin, and it hadn’t met for four years. The new government and I worked on redefining our policy on international cooperation and development. We’re moving into a new era. Moreover, in Pascal Canfin we now have a Development Minister – rather than a Cooperation Minister, which harks back to older ideas: I’m thinking of the very controversial concept of Françafrique (1).

So this interministerial committee made a number of important decisions marked by a very strong political will. We’re engaged in bringing our public accounts under control. All the efforts being made are necessary to the country’s recovery. But nonetheless, France is maintaining her development effort, because in 2013 we’re going to devote €3.1 billion in budget appropriations to international solidarity. Taking all the actions as a whole, including the loans we grant, including subsidized loans, France is devoting more than €9.3 billion to Official Development Assistance. This accounts for 10% of global development assistance, and France is the fourth largest contributor.

I’m going to sum up the guidelines we defined; you’ll get a very detailed press pack setting out each decision.

Out of a concern for solidarity with the poorest countries, the donations will be concentrated on a number of countries that need them most, which we’ve called the priority poor countries. This list was decided on by the interministerial committee. The list includes 16 African countries. Unfortunately, that’s where the poorest countries that we want to help are concentrated.

Secondly, 85% of the state’s financial effort will go to the development of Africa and the Mediterranean. So this confirms the African and Mediterranean priority of our development assistance.

Thirdly, we also want to help those countries that are in crisis or emerging from crisis, and chief among those countries is Haiti. We particularly want to help Haiti because our historical relationship with that country demands this solidarity-based assistance. In a sense, we have a moral debt to Haiti that we absolutely wish to put right. It’s a country that is fighting for its development. And I’ll also mention other countries that must be supported, like Afghanistan, Yemen and Palestine.

And finally, France isn’t absent from the rest of the world: she’s intervening particularly thanks to the French Development Agency. She’s going to carry on intervening, but concentrating this assistance on all the “green and solidarity-based growth” policies being developed in Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean.

And we also have this tool I’ve just mentioned, the French Development Agency, which is currently being modernized and which has a new Director-General, Mme Anne Paugam, who took part in the meeting.

The government’s ambition is also to galvanize all the ministries in terms of their public policy competencies. Whether it relates to foreign trade, immigration, education, research or agriculture, all the ministries concerned are galvanized to support our development policy, including the social and mutually-supportive economy.

We also decided on an extremely important thing: transparency, to better control the effectiveness of our assistance. It’s long been a subject of controversy: does aid really go to the people concerned? Well, we’re going to establish monitoring and assessment tools through a regular report. And also, above all, we’re going to innovate. For example, for aid to Mali – which is very important to help that country rebuild following the war period, following the presidential election that’s just taken place and with the presence of the United Nations – the aid, its purpose and recipients will be put online, on the Internet and therefore accessible to everyone, in both Mali and France.

This will allow us to make a proper assessment of how effective it is. So generally speaking, everyone will be able, with this information and with indicators, to check if we’ve improved the situation as regards education, agriculture, health and many other areas. It’s a civic imperative, it’s a democratic imperative, both for the countries concerned and for their people, but it’s also an imperative for our own fellow citizens, who at times wonder about the purpose of this aid.

This aid is crucial for successfully enabling these countries to develop and be autonomous. It’s in the interest of the countries concerned; it’s in France’s interest too. And a great many players are committed to this action. Not only the state, which I’ve just mentioned, but also the local authorities, in very many, extremely effective decentralized cooperation programmes, without of course forgetting the essential role of the NGOs. All these players must coordinate themselves better. This is also our aim.

That’s what was decided by this interministerial committee – I repeat, very substantive, very strong through its political commitment of solidarity, in line with France’s values. We also talked about the specific role of the Organisation internationale de la francophonie. People throughout the world certainly have expectations of France. But they have expectations of her because of her intrinsic values – those of human rights, humanism and solidarity. So she’s doing what she’s best at when she commits to development, paying due regard to countries’ autonomy and independence.

So to clarify all that, we’re going to prepare an framework and estimates bill, which will be adopted by the Council of Ministers and presented to Parliament before the end of the year. Thank you./.

(1) France’s former, somewhat proprietorial Africa policy often based on personal relationships.

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