administrative division of space
The national territory is divided into:
- 22 regions in metropolitan France and 4 overseas
- 96 departments in metropolitan France and 4 overseas
- 3,995 cantons
- 36,560 districts including 194 outside of metropolitan France
Consult the map of regions and
A state representative is appointed in each of the administrative
- In each region: a prefect of the region, whose office and staff
members are located in the prefecture of the region,
- In each department: a prefect is housed in the prefecture,
In addition, the mayor, who is elected in each municipality, also
represents the State.
The French Republic was first created with
an extremely centralised system. However, since the early 1980’s
we have witnessed a vast movement of decentralisation which has
to the prerogatives of territorial communities. (See appropriate
Citizens elect their own representatives in each constituency by
direct universal suffrage:
- Region: regional council members
elected in each department make up the Regional
Council and subsequently elect the President
Regional Council who represents the executive branch.
- Department: the General Council
members are elected in each canton and make up the
General Council. They subsequently elect the President
of the General Council, the executive branch.
- District: Municipal council members
are elected in each district and then elect the Mayor
who is at the head of the Municipal Council
and manages local affairs.
All of these elected representatives serve a 6-year
II. An outline
of rural development policies and their implementation
The structure of rural development in France is strongly influenced
by EU subsidies and its support structure, particularly the Common
Agricultural Policy (CAP) and regional policies or Structural Funds:
- The first
pillar of the CAP, which includes support measures,
contributes to maintaining agricultural activities and
thus to the very economic fabric of rural areas.
- The second pillar
of the CAP, which defines the broad directions of rural development through
Regulation (RDR), serves as a structure for development
policies of member states.
policies, whose objective
is to ensure developmental cohesion and
territorial harmonisation including rural territories.
support takes the form of financial backing
of Community Initiative Programmes (CIP). These
make it possible
to back community initiatives which are of
to the EU, either because of their focus
or their targeted field of intervention. It
programmes which support actions and innovative
The description of support mechanisms for
as they are presented here, has been
existing programmes between 2000-2006.
by the FEADER).
be made progressively
as soon as
the texts for
measures have been
You can consult the
global diagram if you wish to
view the global organizational outline of structures
related to rural development.
This diagram illustrates the tie between European support policy
(CAP and regional policy) and national and regional policies implemented
The application of these policies must comply with the 22 measures
described in the Rural Development Regulation (RDR) and/or the objectives
defined by regional policies (objectives 1, 2, 3) and Community Initiative
France has set up an original system which integrates rural development
policy into regional policies through two instruments:
- The National Rural
Development Plan (NRDP) financed
by the EAGGF-Guarantee section
- Regional programmes which
have a more territorial approach and which are based on Single
Programming Documents (SPDs) for eligible
areas having structural difficulties as defined
by Objective 2
Through this complex system, France has aimed at four objectives:
- Guaranteeing a national structure for implementing certain plans
- Bringing together all individual agricultural actions on a NRDP
- Maintaining a partnership with local municipalities by combining
regional programmes and State-Regional plan contracts.
- Concentrating financial resources on rural areas in difficulty
The application of this system is then taken over by delocalized
state departments and local districts in compliance with EU regulations
to co-finance actions.
National policies of rural development are therefore greatly influenced
by the EU.
They also reserve a very important place for
territorial aspects of development and the participation of local
actors which date back
to the structures set up during the period of decentralization in
the early 80’s.
Since this period, local districts have become more and more competent
(see details of territories heading) and inter-territorial cooperation
and structures representing both local municipalities and civil society
actors have increased over the years. (For more details see corresponding
Changes from 2007 – 2013
See the Global outline of rural development policies in France 2007 – 2013
The structure and the main guidelines for the rural development policy in France are always governed by the guidelines of the EU at the second pillar of the PAC and the regional policy.
This new program stands in the context of the growth to 25 and then to 27 Member States which changed the economic and social context of the Union and called for new community guidelines and policies.
With the inclusion of these new countries, the rural zones henceforth stand for 90% of the Union territory and therefore call for a strengthening of the rural development policy as a general priority of the EU. Moreover, the regional disparities between old and new Member States called for a greater efficiency in both in the management of funds and the simplification of procedures.
Changes at the level of the rural development policy (2nd pillar of the PAC)
The main principles of this new program have been defined at the European Council at Lisbon (March 2000) and the Goeterborg Summit (June 2001).
The new EU policy in rural development focuses around 4 axes: