(Source: European Commission)
The Commission has today adopted its Partnership Agreement with France, laying down an investment strategy worth €18.4 billion in cohesion policy funding for the period 2021-2027. The funds will support France in promoting economic, social and territorial cohesion, while advancing key EU priorities such as the green and digital transition. The funds will also contribute to the competitiveness of the French regions, while addressing territorial disparities between rural and urban areas, notably when it comes to access to healthcare and to social services.
A competitive, green and digital economy
France will invest €3.5 billion under the European Regional and Development Fund to boost the competitiveness of its regions, for example by contributing to the digitalisation of small and medium-sized businesses. €2.8 billion will be dedicated to implement the European Green Deal in the country, to develop a circular and sustainable economy and an environmentally friendly transport system, and to preserve biodiversity.
The Just Transition Fund (JTF), with a budget of around €1 billion, will help ten French areas in six regions (Hauts-de-France, Grand-Est, Normandie, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Pays-de-la-Loire and Sud-Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur), to cope with the impacts of the energy transition and to diversify their economic activities currently based on carbon intensive industries. This will include support of around €200 million to skills development and career transitions to help affected workers and jobseekers seize new employment opportunities.
France will also invest around €620 million to improve the connectivity and the transport infrastructure (ports and airports) of its Outermost Regions (Mayotte, La Réunion, Saint-Martin, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Guyane).
For socially inclusive economic development
€6.7 billion from the European Social Fund Plus will enhance access to the labour market, in particular through measures combining social and employment support and work experience, up and re-skilling, quality education and vocational training as well as career guidance. Fight against poverty and social exclusion will also be supported, in particular through food and material assistance, including to children.
Territorial disparities in access to healthcare, education and social services will also be addressed, in particular in the Outermost Regions.
Around €567 million from the European Maritime Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund will facilitate the ecological transition of the fishing and aquaculture sectors. The funding will help bringing seafood and aquaculture products in line with the expectations of consumers for sustainable food choices, sustain small-scale coastal fishing, improve the sectors’ resilience, and boost take-up of innovative solutions to the challenges of today.
Members of the College said:
Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms, Elisa Ferreira, said: “The Partnership Agreement with France lays out our strategic commitment to rekindle growth and embark on a more inclusive, sustainable and digital path. Cohesion policy funding of €18.4 billion will be directed to tackle inequalities and reduce disparities across territories. It will allow to unlock the potential of every region to promote innovation, create jobs and reap the benefits of the green and digital transitions. A particular attention will be given to the Outermost Regions to develop their transport, infrastructure and social sectors in line with the new Outermost Regions Strategy.”
Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, Nicolas Schmit, said: “At a time of great transformations in our economy and labour market, France is using cohesion policy funding in a smart way to ensure social inclusion. The European Social Fund Plus will help France to finance training programmes to make sure people have the skills needed for the jobs of today and tomorrow. The ESF+ will also provide crucial support for people who are struggling to make ends meet and need extra help.”
Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevicius, said: “This Partnership Agreement will create favourable conditions for the harmonious deployment of maritime and coastal activities and contribute to the development of a sustainable blue economy in both mainland France and its Outermost Regions. It will support a future-proof and resilient transition of the fisheries and aquaculture sectors and enhance the protection of the marine environment and biodiversity. It shall play a crucial role in supporting coastal communities and decarbonising our economy.”
The Partnership Agreement lays down the priorities for cohesion policy funds and paves the way for their implementation on the ground. The Partnership Agreement with France covers 23 programmes: 4 national, 19 regional and 18 INTERREG programmes (concerning cross-border cooperation). Moreover, it establishes the eligibility and implementation of the JTF in the regions with carbon-intensive industrial facilities most negatively impacted by the climate transition.
Moreover, the Partnership Agreement reflects France’s strong commitment to the coordinated use of the cohesion policy funds with the Recovery and Resilience Facility.
Under cohesion policy, and in cooperation with the Commission, each Member State prepares a Partnership Agreement, a strategic document for programming investments from the cohesion policy funds and the EMFAF during the Multiannual Financial Framework. It focuses on EU priorities, laying down the strategy and investment priorities identified by the Member State, and it presents a list of national and regional programmes for implementation on the ground, including the indicative annual financial allocation for each programme. The Partnership Agreement with France follows those of Greece, Germany, Lithuania, Austria, Finland, Czechia and Denmark.