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French suburban regeneration: a scant action plan.

Translated Tuesday 24 June 2008, by Maud Gillet

The Inter-departmental Committee on Towns and Urban Socio-economic Development has announced a raft of measures as part of the Suburbs Regeneration Programme. The budget allocated to implement these numerous measures seems barely adequate to deal with the problems in deprived areas.


Chaired by the Prime Minister Francois Fillon, the Committee met on Friday in Meaux, a metropolitan suburb east of Paris in Seine et Marne. One by one, the government Departments stated their “triennal pledges” in support of the action plan that President Sarkozy unveiled on 8 February, a plan to which no definite budget has yet been allocated.

If the expected 1 billion euro budget is still in the cards, half the money (500 million euros) assigned to “an inclusive improvement programme to help poorly equipped suburban districts” will come from the Fund for Transport created as a result of the Grenelle Environment Round Table discussions. As a matter of fact, the authorities of the Ile de France region are to provide 70% of the funding for the regeneration initiative. So, in total, the budget which the State will contribute to this initiative amounts to a mere 220 million…

For the under-26-year-olds, 46,000 designated jobs designed to “foster independent living” (contrats d’autonomie) will be created over a three-year period, as announced by Fadela Amara, the Junior Minister for Urban Affairs responsible for the suburban regeneration plan. A key measure in Amara’s programme, and one which came under heavy criticism, this job creation plan is still short of adequately tackling the employment issues plaguing suburban youth.

Two hundred million euros are to cover the programme’s educational provisions. These measures, which should be put in practice by September 2008, include: supportive boarding schools bolstering the pupils’ academic achievements, admission of 5% of youngsters raised in deprived areas into the highly selective Ecoles Préparatoires (1), and a “socially inclusive” network of school buses allowing primary school children from rich and poor areas to travel together. But unfortunately, the cuts in teaching jobs will hit hard at the forthcoming education policy.

4,500 extra police are to be appointed in disadvantaged suburban districts, where they will work as so-called “neighbourhood police officers” in any of the 200 newly created “District Divisional Units” (2). This measure amounts to no more than redistributing police personnel across the area and possibly resorting to the services of retired police officers.

Translator’s note:

1) Colleges preparing students for the selection tests of prestigious higher education establishments.

2) The “Unités Territoriales de Quartiers” (or “UTEQ”) were set up in February 2008.

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