The European Commission (EC) has adopted some days ago its Partnership Agreement with France, laying down an investment strategy worth EUR 18.4 billion in cohesion policy funding for the period 2021-2027. Of this total, around EUR 567 million from the European Maritime Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund will facilitate the ecological transition of the fishing and aquaculture sectors. The Partnership Agreement with France follows those of Greece, Germany, Lithuania, Austria, Finland, Czechia and Denmark.

This specific 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, reported from the EC.

In that sense, Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevicius, said that this Partnership Agreement 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.

For Sinkevicius, the funding “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.”

Green and digital transition

The global 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.

France will invest EUR 3.5 billion under the European Regional and Development Fund to boost the competitiveness of its regions, for example by contributing to the digitalization of small and medium-sized businesses. EUR 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 EUR 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 EUR 200 million to skills development and career transitions to help affected workers and jobseekers seize new employment opportunities.  

France will also invest around EUR 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).

Rekindle growth

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 EUR 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.”

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 programs: 4 national, 19 regional and 18 INTERREG programs (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 programs for implementation on the ground, including the indicative annual financial allocation for each program.

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