France has had “direct and special relations” with Quebec, based on historic, cultural and economic ties since the 1960s. The General Delegation of Quebec, which has been in Paris since 1961, and the French Consulate-General in Quebec, have comparable political and cooperation roles to those of embassies. Relations between France and Quebec are institutionalized by meetings every two years between the respective Prime Ministers, alternating between the two locations.
On 17 October 2008, France and Quebec signed an understanding on the mutual recognition of professional qualifications. This document facilitates access to regulated professionals in the respective territories through a gradual implementation: negotiations between competent French and Quebec authorities for each profession to sign mutual recognition arrangements (ARM), and amendment of legislative, regulatory and administrative standards. Five years on, several hundred people have benefited from 81 of these arrangements (nurses, lawyers, engineers, doctors, butchers, builders, etc.) and have had their skills recognized in France or Quebec.
Recent visits to France
- Prime Minister (since 1980): Mr Lévesque (1980, 1983, 1984, 1985); Mr Bourassa (1986, 1989, 1991); Mr Johnson (1994); Mr Parizeau (1995); Mr Bouchard (1997, 1999, 2000); Mr Landry (2001); Mr Charest (2004, 2006, 2007, February and May 2008, February, July and November 2009, June and November 2010, October 2011, March 2012); Ms Marois (September 2012, December 2013); Mr Philippe Couillard (March and May 2015).
- Minister of International Relations (since 2005): Ms Gagnon-Tremblay (February and December 2005, March and November 2006, October 2007); Mr Arcand (April, June and December 2009, January 2010); Ms Gagnon-Tremblay (November 2010, June and October 2011, June 2012); Mr Lisée (September and November 2012, April, June 2013, September, November 2013); Ms St-Pierre (June 2014, March 2015, June 2015).
Recent French visits to Quebec
- President of the French Republic (since 1980): Mr Mitterrand (1987); Mr Chirac (1999); Mr Sarkozy (2008).
- Prime Minister (since 1980): Mr Mauroy (1982); Mr Fabius (1984); Mr Chirac (1987); Mr Juppé (1996); Mr Jospin (1998); Mr Raffarin (2003); Mr Fillon (July and October 2008); Mr Ayrault (March 2013).
- Minister of Foreign Affairs (since 2002): Mr de Villepin (2002); Mr Douste-Blazy (2006); Mr Kouchner (January, March and June 2010).
- Other ministers (since 2012): Mr Lefebvre (SMEs, January 2012); Ms Bachelot (Solidarity, February 2012); Mr Mercier (Justice, March 2012); Mr Hamon (Social Economy, October 2012); Ms Delaunay (Elderly People, November 2012); Ms Batho (Ecology, March 2013); Ms Fourneyron (Sport and Youth, March 2013); Mr Hamon (Social Economy, March 2013); Ms Benguigui (Francophonie, March 2013); Mr Moscovici (Economy and Finance, September 2013); Ms Fourneyron (Sport and Youth, October 2013); Ms Conway-Mouret (French Nationals Abroad, February 2014); Ms Taubira (Justice, March 2014); Ms Vallaud-Belkacem (National Education, Higher Education and Research, November 2014, State visit); Mr Fekl (Foreign Trade and French Nationals Abroad, November 2014, State visit); Ms Girardin (Development and Francophonie, November 2014, State visit); Mr Kanner (Urban Affairs, Youth and Sport, November 2014, State visit); Ms Lemaire (Digital Sector, November 2014, State visit); Ms Taubira (Justice, April 2015); Ms Royal, Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy, June 2015); Ms Martine Pinville (Commerce, Small-Scale Industry, Consumer Affairs and the Social and Solidarity Economy, March 2016); Mr Jean-Vincent Placé (State Reform and Simplification, April 2016).
French exports to Quebec totalled €3 billion in 2015, a 27% rise compared to the previous year. France is now Quebec’s fifth-largest supplier, with a market share of 3.6%. It is Quebec’s third-largest customer (€1.4 billion in 2015). 44% of the French products exported to Canada in 2015 were for Quebec, while 43% of Canadian exports to France came from the province. Trade between France and Quebec is marked by the dominance of the “transport equipment” and “machines and apparatus” sectors, followed by chemical and pharmaceutical products which fell considerably in 2015 (-14%). France also exports agrifood products (wines and cheeses), perfumes and cosmetics, and publishing products. In addition to aviation, Quebec’s exports to France are focused on semi-finished products such as aluminium, paper pulp and newsprint, as well as metal ores.
Quebec is currently home to three quarters of the French subsidiaries in Canada (France has the second-largest foreign direct investment (FDI) stock and is the largest investor in terms of flow). These 400 subsidiaries (Air Liquide, Bolloré, EDF, Ubisoft, Alstom, etc.) provide more than 30,000 jobs. 160 companies from Quebec are also present in France, including several major groups: Bombardier (aviation, railway construction), Cascades (paper), Québecor (printing). They have created more than 10,000 jobs.
Economic and trade issues are discussed during the annual meetings of the France-Québec Economic Cooperation Group (GFQCE). In 2013, France and Quebec moved onto new ground in economic talks, in the framework of Quebec’s northern development (mining and renewable energy sectors and digital development) and the electrification of transport.
- Further information: www.tresor.economie.gouv.fr/se/canada
The major focuses of cooperation are decided by the Prime Ministers during their regular meetings in the two locations. The legal framework of our cooperation and its instruments is distinct from those of our cooperation with the federal State of Canada. This cooperation is structured by the France-Québec permanent commission (CPCFQ), which met for the 65th time in March 2015. Our cooperation draws in particular on specialized bodies such as the Franco-Quebecois Youth Office (OFQJ) and the France-Québec council for university cooperation (CFQCU).
Decentralized cooperation is taking off. Exchanges between local governments in France and Quebec have developed considerably in recent years thanks to the France-Québec decentralized cooperation fund (FFQCD) established in 2005. Decentralized cooperation was opened up in 2011 to operations in third countries, with the launch of a call for projects in Haiti.
Our scientific and academic cooperation is intense. Most actions co-financed equally with the Quebec side seek to structure partnerships, through the creation of integrated courses and joint laboratories, joint-supervised PhDs (more than 3000 defended to date), mobility of teaching staff, and the organization of scientific events and symposiums. While this cooperation was long based on an agreement providing for waived fees for French students in Quebec (tuition fees aligned with those of Quebec home students), the closure of this scheme by Quebec’s government led France and Quebec to conclude a new agreement on 6 March 2015. This means an alignment of fees for newly enrolled students in bachelor’s programmes in Quebec with those due from other Canadian students from outside Quebec, starting from the 2015 intake. The agreement does, however, provide for maintaining tuition fees similar to those of Quebec home students on postgraduate courses, as well as for all French students residing in Saint Pierre and Miquelon.
Cultural cooperation is particularly intense between France and Quebec in all aspects of contemporary artistic creation. It is based on a number of partnerships between many local artists and cultural operators. Quebec is the leading export market for the French cultural industries. The current priority is seeking new partnerships and high-level co-creation projects.
- Further information: www.consulfrance-quebec.org