France aims to spend €30 billion on decarbonising its economy

French President Emmanuel Macron removing his protective face mask before delivering a speech
French President Emmanuel Macron removing his protective face mask before delivering a speech Copyright LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP or licensors
Copyright LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP or licensors
By Euronews
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The country wants to invest billions of euros into decarbonising its economy, speeding up its target of becoming Europe's first major country to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.


France wants to spend €30 billion on decarbonising its economy, speeding up its target of becoming Europe's first major country to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

The money is part of the so-called "France Relance" recovery plan, which is designed to address the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The whole investment plan is worth €100 billion, representing the equivalent of one-third of the annual state budget.

Just over €40 billion of this will be provided by the European Union, as part of the bloc's so-called Recovery and Resilience Facility in order to support businesses, rethink production models, transform infrastructure and invest in training.

In order to access this money, member states must include at least 37% of expenditure in investments and reforms that support climate objectives and 20% towards the digital transition.

In order to demonstrate its commitment towards these goals, France has gone way beyond this, with approximately 50% of these funds aimed at the environment and 25% towards the digital economy.

This means that roughly €20 billion from the EU's Recovery and Resilience Facility will be used on climate goals, with the government topping this up by €10 billion to reach its €30 billion commitment.

Paris intends to focus its climate action on improving energy efficiency in buildings, including the support of thermal renovations in buildings, as well as the decarbonisation of industry, green hydrogen, cleaner transport and transformation of the agricultural sector.

Grégory Claeys, a researcher at the Bruegel Institute says that on transport, the French government wants to significantly improve the quality of the rail network.

"Paris, for example, places a lot of emphasis on railways, whereas in Germany, for example, they talk more about electric vehicles, electric cars, which is more in line with German industry. Of course, Paris is more focused on railways, and we know the importance of railways and TGV in France. So, it's something they insist on," Claeys told Euronews.

Retraining the workforce

The researcher added that France's plan stands out from its neighbours, as the government really places emphasis on the retraining of the country's workforce.

"This is really unique to the French plan. I haven't seen anything like this in other proposals, aimed at training and this seems to me to be useful because if we want to implement a green transition, a digital transition, there is a large part of training and also of job changes that will take place with this green transition in particular."

As part of Paris' plans, it will invest €36 billion in retraining workers, so that they are better prepared for a 2030 economy that will be considerably greener and more digital-oriented.

To avoid widening inequalities, the recovery plan is designed in such a way as to provide better support to young and vulnerable people seeking employment across the country.

Part of this is aimed at training young people in strategic, high-growth sectors to deal with the expected increase in young jobseekers.

The strategy also includes nationwide structural reforms.

But the plans don't mark a complete break with the past, rather a continuation of the French government's commitments, including the overhaul of unemployment insurance, the implementation of which was suspended due to the pandemic.

Election year coming

The huge €100 billion investment plan comes one year before the 2022 presidential election though, which Claeys describes as being, in part, an "electoral roadmap" aimed at President Macron's re-election bid.


"The proposal is also a communication plan for the French to show that at the European level, France is moving the lines somewhat and we know that this was one of the main elements of Emmanuel Macron's programme during the last presidential elections and will certainly be one of the elements he will want to put forward in the next presidential elections," Claeys told Euronews.

But Macron will not be able to reap all of the benefits of the plan on the campaign trail. While the first handouts are expected in the coming months, the majority of EU funding is expected from 2023 onwards.

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