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EU agreement to help ‘transform France into productive economy’

Out-Law News | 13 Aug 2014 | 2:28 pm | 1 min. read

France has adopted a ‘partnership agreement’ with the European Commission that includes support to improve access to finance for small and medium enterprises (SMEs), invest in the “low carbon economy” and develop renewable sources of energy.

The Commission said the agreement, which sets out the use of European structural and investment Funds in France’s regions and cities up to 2020, will also channel financing into the aquaculture and fishing industry and “pave the way for France's return to recovery and growth, and its transformation into a productive economy”.

France has been allocated around €15.9bn in total cohesion policy funding at current prices for 2014 to 2020 (3-page / 736 KB PDF). The Commission said the main priorities for France include developing the ‘e-economy’, in particular e-services and information technology applications, and promoting entrepreneurship and access to finance and advanced business services for SMEs.

The Commission said other priority areas for funding include efforts to increase private research and innovation investment and “enhancing the transfer from research to business”.

EU commissioner for regional policy Johannes Hahn said: “The investment plan adopted by France... will allow it to continue on the path to economic recovery and renewed growth for the coming decade. 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.”

Hahn said Commission support covered sectors where France had made “important strategic investment choices” such as SME competitiveness and innovation.

France will also receive €588 million from the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF). The commissioner for maritime affairs and fisheries Maria Damanaki said EMFF support would help France’s fisheries and aquaculture sectors “strengthen their competitiveness, stimulate employment and worker mobility and promote resource efficiency”.

According to data published by the Commission in 2013, EU aquaculture production is mainly concentrated in France, Greece, Italy, Spain and the UK (58-page 1.28 MB PDF). The Commission said aquaculture is “an increasingly important contributor” to economic growth as well as global food supply and food security. According to the Commission, France is the second largest aquaculture producer of the total EU production in volume (18%) after Spain (21%).

Cohesion policy funding for France from 2007 to 2013, which was €14.3bn, helped the country connect an additional 840,000 people to broadband internet, improve urban transport for more than 440,000 people and reinforce flood protection infrastructure for almost two million people, the Commission said.

The International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) latest annual assessment of France’s economy, published in July 2014, said the country needed “deeper structural reforms” including opening “protected sectors” to greater competition.

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