The European Commission has adopted a "partnership agreement" with France setting out the strategy for the optimal use of European Structural and Investment Funds in the country's regions and cities for 2014-2020. This agreement paves the way for France's return to recovery and growth, and its transformation into a productive economy. It sets out how a total of EUR 15.9 billion in Cohesion Policy funding (at current prices, including European Territorial Cooperation funding) and EUR 11.4 billion for rural development is to be invested in the country's real economy. France will receive EUR 588 million from the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF).
The EU investments are intended to create sustainable high-quality jobs in order to combat unemployment and boost growth by supporting innovation, the low-carbon economy as well as education and training in both cities and rural areas. They will also promote entrepreneurship, fight social exclusion and make an important contribution to an environmentally friendly and resource-efficient economy.
The European Structural and Investment Funds (ESI Funds) in France comprise the following:
Commenting on the adoption, Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn, said: The investment plan adopted by France today will allow it to continue on the path to economic recovery and renewed growth for the coming decade. This partnership agreement reflects the commitment of both the European Commission and France to make the most of EU funding and ensure the French economy gets back on track. According to the new Cohesion Policy, the strategic focus of our investments must be on the real economy, sustainable growth and human capital. However, quality rather than speed is the main objective. In the coming months, we will be working together to develop the operational programmes to guarantee the best results for financing from the European Structural and Investment Funds for 2014-2020. Commitment is needed from both sides to ensure that good quality programmes are put in place."
Commissioner Hahn added: "Today's agreement lays the foundations for a new growth model in France, thanks to EU investments. The adoption of the Partnership Agreement comes just at the right time to support France in its efforts. Important strategic choices have been made to invest in SME competitiveness and innovation, the creation of sustainable jobs and the fight against unemployment through the strengthening of capacity-building and the development of human resources, together with energy performance, information and communication technologies, risk prevention and environmental protection. The agreement also provides for investments addressing the needs of France's six outermost regions. All these major strategic choices will yield results in the near future. France has made wise choices, setting its investment priorities accordingly. Sectors such as innovation (smart specialisation) and energy (production of renewable energy, the improvement of energy performance, sustainable urban mobility) are essential for ensuring future growth in France."
László Andor, Commissioner Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, pointed out: "I wish to congratulate France for having concluded its partnership agreement in close cooperation with the Commission. I am very happy to see that more than EUR 6 billion from the European Social Fund will be invested in human resources. EUR 1.2 billion of this amount will be earmarked for France's outermost regions. The ESF will focus on the country's most vulnerable people. Almost one third of all funding will be dedicated to social inclusion and the fight against poverty. Early school-leavers, older workers, the long-term unemployed and young people will benefit from actions with national coverage to support access to jobs, the modernisation of the labour market institutions and the prevention of school drop-out. The ESF will also help the French regions to meet their specific needs in terms of continuing education, vocational training and entrepreneurship, fields in which they now have greater responsibility."
Dacian Cioloș, Commissioner for Agricultural and Rural Development, said: "This partnership agreement with France is an important step towards elaborating and implementing a successful rural development policy in France, facilitating coordination and synergies with the other EU Funds and thereby making investments more efficient. France's agriculture and rural areas have great potential and many strengths, but also face considerable challenges. The partnership agreement acknowledges the important role which can be played by agriculture and the agri-food industry in economic recovery, while creating the conditions to protect the country's natural resources and solve social problems in rural areas. It is now up to France to propose ambitious, balanced and well-targeted rural development plans which will allow farmers and rural areas to meet these challenges."
Maria Damanaki, Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, declared: "Through the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF), we wish to create the conditions to allow French businesses, local communities and fishermen to make their activities more socially, economically and environmentally sustainable. We wish to help the fisheries and aquaculture sectors in France to strengthen their competitiveness, stimulate employment and worker mobility and promote resource efficiency. France will thus be able to contribute to economic growth and create the new jobs which Europe needs. "