France launches 57 bln euro investment fund
PARIS - Agence France-PresseFrench Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced plans on Sept. 25 to pour 57 billion euros ($67.8 billion) into modernizing France’s sluggish economy, with a hefty chunk set aside for making it more environmentally-friendly.
Spread over five years, the fund will be slightly bigger than the 50 billion euros that centrist Emmanuel Macron had pledged when he was elected president in May.
Philippe said the fund would have an “amplifier effect” on the new government’s reform program, which includes labor law changes designed to bring down stubbornly high unemployment rate of 9.5 percent.
“It’s about giving power and visibility to our major investment priorities,” Philippe told a press conference.
Twenty billion euros will be used to fund a transition towards a greener economy, Philippe said, including nine billion for making buildings more energy efficient and seven billion for renewable energy development.
The government will spend nine billion euros on digitizing the public sector, 15 billion extra on training and education, and 13 billion on broader innovation.
Philippe said some of the funding would come from existing ministerial budgets and some from the European Investment Bank.
Government spokesman Christophe Castaner said earlier that around five billion euros from the fund was for modernizing the agricultural sector in Europe’s biggest food producer.
The launch comes as Macron’s government prepares to announce the first budget of his five-year term on Sept. 27.