General Data
Name of instrument Contrat de Pays - Pays contract
Country FR
Spatial level regional
Type Voluntary approaches and agreements / cooperation
Subtype Regional management
Description A Pays is any territory featuring geographic, economic, cultural or social cohesion, even if its area goes beyond the boundaries of a department or region. Bound together by a shared project, a Pays can include 80, 100 or even 150 to 200 communes, meant to make up an development pool within which the rural and urban areas mutually support one another. The Pays were created by the Outline Act on Land Planning and Sustainable Development (Voynet law) of June 25th, 1999 and were set up in response to the national government’s desire to sustain land development and planning policy within the country based on sub-units with real geographic, economic and human relevance. The Pays are not a new administrative district; each Pays, through its managing authority (Comité de Pays and Council of Development) has to draw up a charter which is a contract signed on the one hand by the communes and inter-municipal co-operation structures, on the other hand by the State and administrative Région, defining the local strategy as regards socio-economic development, spatial management and service structuring. The charter defines the operational terms by which the development strategic objectives will be pursued and guarantees the communes funding from the State and Région for all implementation. By this way, the Pays will make it possible to lead a common reflexion, on a relevant scale for certain projects. The Pays associates, on the basis of voluntariate, elected officials, socio-professional and associative of all the territory in order to define projects of a strong, coherent and interdependent development between the various economic sectors and the various geographical areas. The Pays has a role of impulse, animation and coordination of the local initiatives which must lead to the establishment and the implementation of a project for the region. It enables to engage projects and mutualise means, in particular financial and human.
General objectives Sustain regional development and planning policy within the country based on local consistent territories
General objectives keywords
Responsible Local authority/Municipal council
Stakeholder Involved Local authority/Municipal council; Regional authority; Associations/interest groups;
Reference Outline Act on Land Planning and Sustainable Development (Voynet law) of June 25th, 1999
General assessment of strength and weakness The DATAR made an assessment of the Pays policy in 2005, which constituted an unambiguous plea for a continuation of this policy and of the support of the State for the contracts signed with the Pays, at a moment where 283 contracts had been signed by the State. The evaluators took notice of the quantitative and qualitative success of this instrument, beyond the large variety of forms taken by the contractual documents. According to them the Pays contracts brought a real beneficiation on the territorial development, in particular by the quality of the dialogue between the actors in prolongation of the development of the Pays charters, by the good coordination between the partners which was established within the negotiation phase, and also by obvious financial a lever effect. The evaluation puts also ahead the “capital role of territorial engineering” and the need for reinforcing it in the most disadvantaged territories.

Conversely, the evaluators reported some weaknesses due in particular to the innovative aspect of this instrument and the precipitation of certain signatures: insufficient selectivity, lack of legibility of the links between charter and contract, weakness of the articulation with neighbouring territories and other types of territories of projects (Region Nature Park, Leader+).
Forts of this report, the evaluators made a series of recommendations which are addressed at the same time at the local level and to the partners of the Pays, in particular the State:
- To revise the charter if necessary, so in particular “concentrating around some major strategic axes”.
- To mobilize territorial engineering, in particular the State engineering departments, when the potential available proves to be insufficient.
- To reinforce the selectivity by cofinancing only the structuring projects conceived on the Pays scale, with the participation of the whole of the actors concerned, and answering issues considered to be priority by the diagnosis.
- To improve the participation in the procedure: to generalize the rules of procedure in the Councils of development, to support a better articulation between elected officials and council of development and this last and the whole of the population, to systematize their implication in t prospective approaches and in the implementation of the programming.
- To support the articulation between the various contractual instruments and the harmonization of the procedures of setting up the contracts.
- To improve the evaluation tools by distinguishing territorial evaluation of State-région plans from the evaluation of the Contrats de Pays.

The evaluators concluded by indicating that “the State must continue its contractual approach with respect to the Pays, while putting themselves in situation from a better effectiveness.
Date of entry 2007/09/05
Legal status not-mandatory
Extension frequent (<50% and >25%)
Comment see contrat de pays in
Type of monitoring Qualitative / descriptive reporting
Preconditions for implementation
Best practise example Contrat de Pays du Pays Gapençais
Example Abstract see
General comment
Status Strong direct relevance
Ranking 4
Status Municipal administration/Local politicians, Environmental NGOs, Municipal residents/individuals, Superordinate administrations and authorities
Ranking 4
Status Most stakeholders and administrative structures are familiar with instrument, implementation in 25-50% of spatial entities
Ranking 4
Status Legislation, Know-how, Political will, Participation/Support
Ranking 3
Status Type of effect, direction of effect, acceptability, perpetuity
Ranking 4