France/International cooperation. How does the government support and supervise the diplomatic practices of local authorities?

Published on 26/09/2022 | La rédaction


Answer from the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs: From a legal point of view, although local authorities cannot conclude international treaties or agreements, they can nevertheless be actors in international relations through territorial diplomacy.

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The principle of free administration allows local authorities to undertake or support external actions, in compliance with France's international commitments (treaties, agreements, United Nations or European Union resolutions, etc.).

The programming law on solidarity development and the fight against global inequalities of August 4, 2021 also recalls the fundamental role played by local authorities in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

In this context, the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs has a department dedicated to supporting the international action of French local authorities, whose cooperation principles comply with the guidelines of

  • the National Commission for Decentralized Cooperation (CNCD), whose general secretariat is provided by the Delegation for the External Action of the French Governmentthe National Commission for Decentralized Cooperation (CNCD), whose general secretariat is provided by the Delegation for the External Action of Local Authorities (DAECT) and of which Agence france développement (AFD) is an advisory member;
  • the November 2016 Inter-ministerial Committee on International Cooperation and Development (CICID), which reinforced AFD's mandate to contribute to the financing of the external action of French local authorities (AECT) in developing countries, in particular through the creation of the AFDin developing countries, in addition to the action of the DAECT and the CICID of February 8, 2018, which announced a doubling of2018, which announced a doubling of the funds intended to support the AECT by 2022, a direction confirmed by law 2021-1031 of 4 August 2021;
  • the White Paper "Diplomacy and Territories" of the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs validated by the CNCD in November 2016.

Within the Directorate General for Globalization, Culture, Education and International Development, the work of the Delegate for the external action of local authorities (circular of 26 May 1983, Prime Minister), is based on three main activities:

  • the Delegate provides ex-officio the general secretariat of the National Commission for Decentralized Cooperation (CNCD), a body for the exchange of information and experience.e (CNCD), a body for dialogue between the State and local authorities on international action which meets twice a year;
  • it provides support, advice and co-financing for decentralized cooperation actions;
  • It ensures the interface between the priorities of French diplomacy and the external action of local authorities. In particular, it coordinates the network of Diplomatic Advisers to the Regional Prefects (CPDR).

The DAECT, with the support of the network of CDPRs in France and the diplomatic network abroad, accompanies, advises and co-finances the decentralized cooperation actions of local authorities anywhere in the world where they want to get involved. It also contributes to the support of associative actors from local authorities (associations of local authorities). The DAECT has a budget of €12.5 million for 2022.

This budget is increasing. Indeed, the programming law on solidarity development and the fight against global inequalities of August 42021 (Article 1, IX) provides for the doubling in 2022, compared to 2017, of the funds allocated by the State to support the external action of local authorities. This increase is in line with the objective set by the State in terms of official development assistance (ODA): to reach 0.55% of gross national income by 2022.

The advice, advocacy and financial support of the DAECT focus on the themes considered the most promising by local authorities, which have legitimacy in the eyes of the citizens and overlap with the priorities of our diplomacy.The DAECT thus carries out a specific information and training action for local authorities through dedicated communication aimed at relaying the latest news of decentralized cooperation, opportunities and the ministry's priorities, and participation in the events of networks and associations of local authorities.

The DAECT also produces specific resources for local authorities: legal and operational guides, explanatory brochures, online seminars, etc.

Finally, it lists all decentralized cooperation projects throughout the world in the French Atlas of decentralized cooperation ( The DAECT coordinates the declaration of ODA amounts made by local authorities and analyses them through annual reports. French local authorities have a special place in terms of official development assistance.

The programming law on solidarity development and the fight against global inequalities of 4 August 2021 includes several references to the external action of local authorities, showing that the latter are fully integrated as actors in the development process.This shows that local authorities are fully integrated as actors in the policy of solidarity development and the fight against global inequalities, both at the level of conception and implementation, in complementarity with the actions of the State and other partners.The total amount of ODA declared by local authorities for 2021 is €126.6M (including aid to refugees). The amount of ODA from local authorities excluding aid to refugees is €54.4M.

In order to compare trends on a like-for-like basis, local authorities' ODA amounted to €122M in 2020, i.e. an increase of 2%, despite the COVID-19 crisis which has considerably slowed down international trade.

To support local authorities and encourage them to become more involved in international cooperation, the DAECT has several tools available:

  • Calls for projects. Launched annually, the DAECT's calls for projects (AAP) in support of decentralized cooperation are aimed at French local authorities in theand overseas territorial authorities, or their groupings, which carry out projects in the framework of decentralized cooperation partnerships with foreign territorial authorities.There are several categories of calls for projects:
    • Bilateral PAAs: in support of decentralized cooperation with a particular country, with for some a financial contribution from the partner state. In 2022: Franco-Moroccan, Franco-Tunisian, Franco-Palestinian, Franco-Senegalese, Franco-Mexican, Franco-Quebec PAA;
    • Thematic PAAs: aimed at creating opportunities for local authorities and encouraging them to carry out decentralized cooperation projects in priority areas. In 2022: Youth, Sports, Gender Equality, Inclusive and Sustainable Digital ;
    • General PAA: covering all geographical areas and themes not covered by the other PAAs, on a three-year project basis. In 2022: three-year generalist.

The co-financing rate for projects submitted depends on the partner country: 70% if it is a priority ODA country (CICID list), 50% if it is an ODA recipient country, 30% for the rest of the world.3. The complementarity of the DAECT and the AFD The support of the Agence Française de Développement for decentralized cooperation, through its FICOL tool, is a key element in the development of the French economy.e, through its FICOL tool (Facility for financing French local authorities), set up in 2014, is complementary to that of the DAECT. This is for an annual amount that is globally equivalent.

Beyond the impact in terms of development sought through this alliance with French territories, cooperation with local authorities meets a triple objective for AFD:

  • to strengthen strategic dialogue with local authorities in order to improve their knowledge of French expertise and know-how, to get closer to citizens in order to raise their awareness, and to promote AFD's mission to fight poverty and promote sustainable development;
  • financing the external action of local authorities, and in particular local authority initiatives to give them the means to act and express their added value;
  • promoting the territorial approach in development projects, enhancing territorial expertise and French-style management models (management of natural parks or watersheds, for example) to increase the impact of AFD's action.

AFD and the DAECT work closely together to select projects. Decentralized cooperation projects cofinanced by the DAECT focus on actions to support partners, build capacities through training, produce conference resources, travel and meetings.These projects focus on support to partners, capacity building with training, the production of conference resources, travel and meetings between actors, communication and capitalization, networking or education for citizenship and international solidarity (ECSI), etc. These are also projects to initiate partnerships. There is no minimum budget.

Decentralized cooperation projects co-financed by AFD are generally carried out by local authorities that already have experience and wish to increase their cooperation with larger-scale projects. Unlike those of the DAECT, they can finance infrastructure and investment. The amounts of co-financing and the budgets provided by the applicant local authorities are much higher (minimum co-financing by AFD: €200,000).

With regard to Ukraine in particular, the action of local authorities, accompanied by the State, has been carried out through various channels. Firstly, as soon as the Russian invasion of Ukraine began on 24 February, France - via the Crisis and Support Center of the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs - provided assistance to the Ukrainian de l'Europe et des Affaires Etrangères (CDCS) - launched emergency operations in response to humanitarian needs.

In this resolute commitment, the State, with the help of the DAECT within the MEAE, has associated local authorities who wished to become involved in supporting displaced Ukrainians in Ukraine and neighboring countries, particularly through collections and donations.

The "local authorities' external action fund" (FACECO) activated by the Ministry thus makes it possible to contribute to the financing of operations coordinated by the CDCS. The 1700 local authorities, all categories included, who have contributed a total of 7.7 million are thus assured that their funding will be used for relevant operations, in line with the requests expressed by the national authorities and verified with them.

Secondly, the local authorities have also mobilized nationally by helping the State services throughout the country to identify the capacity to receive and then support displaced Ukrainians arriving in France.

Thirdly, the local authorities have mobilized in favor of Ukraine but also of neighboring countries, based on pre-existing or new links. For example, at the end of June and beginning of July 2022, the Ile-de-France Region signed two declarations of intent for emergency aid and reconstruction with the Ukrainian oblasts of Kiev and Chernihiv.


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