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Communication to the Senate Finance Committee
March 2022
Executive summary
The Covid-19 pandemic and the business and travel restrictions have caused an
unprecedented contraction of GDP in 2020, of 8.0% in France. In response to this economic
shock, after implementing emergency measures to limit the contraction of activity during the
crisis, the Government has put in place a recovery plan to allow a rapid return of economic
activity to its pre-crisis level. Announced on 3 September 2020, the France Relance recovery
plan dedicates €100bn to the recovery of the economy.
A recovery plan with several objectives and a wide range of
The recovery plan is structured around two objectives and three components. It aims not
only to ensure the recovery of economic activity, but also to transform the economy, with three
priorities: the “ecology” section brings together, for a budgetary volume of €30.4bn, measures
aimed at supporting the ecological transition; the “competitiveness” section has €34.4bn to
transform the productive fabric and strengthen the sovereignty of national production in certain
strategic areas; the “cohesion” section, for €35.7bn, aims to strengthen social and territorial
Designed with a very tight deadline in the summer of 2020, the recovery plan in many
cases extends existing schemes, allocating funds to existing measures (e.g. MaPrimeRénov’
support for energy renovation in private homes) or to schemes awaiting funding (e.g.
investments in the rail network). Regarding the investment component of the Ségur health
plan, the €6bn budget decided in the summer of 2020 has been attached to France Relanc
But the recovery plan also supports new measures, such as aid for the development of the
hydrogen industry, funds for the transformation of urban and industrial wastelands or aid for
the hiring of young people, apprenticeship contracts and professionalization contracts.
The total funds of the plan are divided almost equally between the two objectives of
recovery and transformation of the economy. However, the balance differs between the
different sections, with measures in favour of ecology being more transformational in nature,
while those in favour of cohesion are more likely to have an immediate stimulus objective.
The porosity of the recovery plan with other plans or programmes underway leads to a
weakening of the legibility of France Relance and its measures. Some of them are not part of
the recovery (exceptional subsidy allocated to France Compétences, creation of places for the
studies of new students). Others are similar to emergency measures since their main objective
is to offset the effects of the health crisis (compensation for loss of revenue of local authorities).
Lastly, the integration within the recovery plan of measures included in the new programme
for future investments (PIA 4) creates confusion between the two initiatives.
The recovery plan ultimately consists of a very large number of measures, benefiting
many economic sectors. A major difficulty for its analysis is the lack of an exhaustive, up-to-
date and shared list of measures. It is therefore difficult today to assess the plan as a whole,
as no complete, detailed and up-to-date information is available.
The financing of the recovery plan is mainly the State’s responsibility, which is
responsible for €86bn of the total budget of €100bn. France benefits from partial coverage by
European Union, for €39.4bn. EU funding for some measures, grouped under the National
Recovery and Resilience Plan (NRRP), is however conditional on the achievement of structural
reforms, usually referred to as “milestones”, and on the attainment of quanti
tative targets for
some measures. These requirements are a source of risk for European funding, in case of
non-compliance with milestones or non-attainment of targets. Furthermore, the audit and
control system for the implementation of measures set by the European Union imposes
management costs on the State and can be difficult to apply to decentralised measures, due
to the large number of intermediaries who are not always familiar with the enhanced control
and audit requirements that apply to European funds.
Rapid but complex implementation due to the large number of
measures and stakeholders involved
The implementation of the recovery plan involves a large number of stakeholders, mainly
central administrations, decentralised services, operators, prefectures and local authorities. Its
governance is based on several steering committees, at national and regional levels. The
national committee ensures the proper deployment of the plan, adjusts the measures if
necessary and organises any redeployment. The local committees have the task of circulating
information on the measures and reporting on implementation difficulties. Their functioning
seems to vary from one region to another, with unequal involvement of their members.
The measures of the recovery plan follow different allocation methods: simple public
ordering (several changes have been made since 1 January 2020 simplifying the formalities
of public contracts and facilitating access to them for SMEs); one-stop-shop mechanisms,
which allow aid to be distributed rapidly; and calls for projects, possibly preceded by calls for
expressions of interest, which are used to select beneficiary projects, but which require
deadlines. In all cases, the measures were subject to rapid decision-making processes, with
the risk that the quality of the projects selected would be lower and that priority would be given
to projects that were already ready at the expense of those that needed time to be designed.
The need for specific engineering to develop certain projects may have disadvantaged those
stakeholders who did not have it (e.g. VSEs or rural municipalities).
As regards the budgetary management of the recovery plan, a specific budgetary
mission was created in 2021, comprising three programmes, one for each of the priorities
(ecology, competitiveness, cohesion). This choice is not strictly in line with the principles of the
Constitutional bylaw on budget acts (the programmes include expenditure from various public
policies, the objectives and performance indicators are limited and not very informative).
Nevertheless, it makes it possible to identify and isolate the recovery plan appropriations in the
State budget, and not to create confusion with ordinary appropriations. However, the scheme
suffers from the fact that some of the funds for this plan have been allocated to other budgetary
Moreover, budgetary management appears complex, with numerous delegations of
credit management, as a result of the distribution of the implementation of the plan between
the ministries responsible for the various public policies and, where appropriate, with
operators. An unusual role with respect to the ministries’ business departments was given to
the budget department, which, as programme manager, became the promoter of the
consumption of the recovery
plan’s appropriations, in order to allow its implementation in a
short timeframe. Despite these disadvantages, the chosen budgetary management method
has clear advantages, establishing a clear separation of recovery appropriations within the
State budget. This separation should be maintained in the future, and the abolition of the
Recovery Plan
mission should be considered as soon as possible after the end of 2022.
Monitoring of the implementation of the plan is carried out at several levels. The general
secretariat of the recovery plan monitors the progress of the measures, based on targets set
in advance by the ministries. However, the monitoring tool “Pilote relance” gives only a very
imperfect view of the plan, as the targets are rather conventional and not all measures are
covered by Pilote relance. Moreover, this tool is not accessible to the public: only thirty or so
measures are monitored and made public, via the France Relance “dashboard”.
The overall budgetary monitoring of the plan is carried out from the
and accounting IT system. It is relatively simple for the
Recovery Plan
mission, with a detailed
nomenclature of measures. However, it is limited to the consumption of appropriations by the
State, which does not provide information on the amount of funds actually transferred to final
beneficiaries for appropriations whose management is entrusted to operators. Administrations
have generally developed very detailed monitoring of the measures they implement, but there
is no centralisation and concatenation of this detailed information.
The implementation of the recovery plan has been a significant workload for
administrations and operators. While central administrations and decentralised services have
mostly operated with constant staffing levels, additional management funds and recruitment
authorisations have been granted to certain operators and public entities, with a variable extent
depending on the case.
The implementation of the recovery plan was also accompanied by numerous
communication actions aimed at raising awareness and generating demand from potential
beneficiaries. Numerous communication channels were therefore used to disseminate
information on the recovery plan measures, both to the departments responsible for their
implementation and to potential beneficiaries. They have led to the mobilisation of particularly
significant financial resources compared to other communication plans carried out by the
Government. Without ignoring the need to communicate on the France Relance plan, the
justification for such an amount of expenditure appears uncertain.
Within the recovery plan, a little over €10bn is dedicated to actions whose allocation is
decided at the regional level. The regionalisation of the plan was largely based on the prefects,
who had a role in coordinating all the local players (local authorities, decentralised services,
local services of operators, etc.) and, for certain measures, had the power to choose the
beneficiaries. However, the Court notes a lack of coordination of the various contractualisation
instruments between the State and local authorities: recovery agreements with the regions and
departments, recovery and ecological transition contracts, State-region plan contracts.
Moreover, not all local authorities have benefited from the recovery plan under the same
conditions, some remaining outside the contractualisations or not having the engineering
required to present a project. Lastly, the Court notes that the monitoring of the recovery plan
does not currently allow the identification of all beneficiaries of all measures in a region.
Difficulty in assessing the recovery plan at the end of 2021 and
questions about its continued implementation
The Government’s objective of consuming €70bn of commitments by the end of 2021
has been achieved. For 2022, the objective is to use up all commitments by the end of the
year. The consumption of payment appropriations is logically slower, €42.1bn by the end of
2021. Further disbursements are expected to extend well beyond 2022, at least until 2026.
Given the scale of the plan, and the phasing of disbursements for some measures,
detailed information on progress should be published at regular intervals.
The continued implementation of the plan beyond 2021 raises several questions:
- while the recovery plan aimed to return economic activity to its pre-crisis level by mid-2022,
this target was reached by the end of the third quarter of 2021. This recovery is
accompanied by the emergence of tensions in some sectors. In order not to exacerbate
these difficulties, the implementation of the remaining funds should now be more selective;
the evaluation of the effectiveness of the recovery plan’s measures, foreseen from the
outset by the Government, will have to be carried out with regard to the objectives assigned
to it: stimulus of activity, transformation of the economy, development of the regions;
- Lastly, the continuation of certain measures of the recovery plan, if it is deemed desirable,
can only be envisaged in compliance with a public finance trajectory compatible with the
sustainability of the public debt.
In order to guarantee European funding for expenditure under the national recovery and
resilience plan until 2026, put in place the means to ensure compliance with the
requirements for internal control and audit of European funds
(general secretariat for
recovery plan, ministries)
For the
Recovery Plan
budget mission, no more commitment authorisations should be
opened beyond the end of 2022; plan to abolish it as soon as possible after that date
(budget department)
Rapidly set up a system for monitoring recovery plan appropriations disbursed by operators
for each budget programme of the
Recovery Plan mission (budget department)
In order to measure the regionalisation of the recovery plan, publish an overall assessment
of the regional deployment of the measures in the first half of 2022
(general secretariat for
recovery plan)
Publish at regular intervals a statement, detailed by major components, of the budgetary
progress (expenditure, revenue shortfalls) of the recovery plan
(budget department,
general secretariat for recovery plan)
Review projects and remove measures that do not meet their targets
(general secretariat
for recovery plan)
Only consider the sustainability of certain measures of the recovery plan under the public
finance trajectory provided for in the next programming law
(budget department)