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European integration has been at the heart of French foreign policy ever since 1945. Three considerations have made this great project a priority: the determination to end the conflicts that, twice in the space of thirty years, tore Europe apart and weakened France; the need during the Cold War to ensure stability and guarantee the security of democratic countries lying to the west of the Iron Curtain; the ambition, and the desire, to create an economic area, followed by an integrated and unified social, political and security area that would make Europe a realm of peace and prosperity, well able to play its part on the international stage. Two Frenchmen who initiated the European project, Robert Schuman and Jean Monnet, were convinced of the need to bring the countries of the continent together in a single organisation. Their ambition was to organise economic solidarity between these countries in order to bring them closer together politically. For this purpose, the European Coal and Steel Community was set up on 18 April 1951. The Community’s institutions became models for subsequent European integration. On 25 March 1957, France was among the six Member States of the ESCC (with Germany, Belgium, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands) who signed the Treaty of Rome, which created the European Economic Community (EEC). These countries committed themselves to sharing the same economic future by abolishing all customs barriers between them and instituting a Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

In the five decades that followed the signing of the Treaty of Rome, France took an active part in the steady progress towards European integration. Major political reforms in the nineteen-seventies included the creation of the European Council, made up of the heads of State and government, universal suffrage for elections of Members of the European Parliament and the inception of the European Monetary System (EMS) at the initiative of President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing and the German Chancellor, Helmut Schmidt. At the instigation of François Mitterrand, Helmut Kohl and Jacques Delors, the President of the European Commission, the ‘Single European Act’ was adopted in February 1986. This created a genuine wider European market, ensuring free movement of people, goods and capital, as well as the freedom to provide services throughout the Community.

puceoupas Read more on the history of the European Union

Illust: The new French (...), 6.5 ko, 200x117
The new French embassy
in Berlin.
Photo: Martin Frandreau

Stabilisation in Europe

As progress was being made on the European Union, several cooperation institutions were set up to stabilise Europe. The oldest of these, the Council of Europe, was created at the initiative of a French minister, Georges Bidault, in 1949. Its seat is in Strasbourg and it members are countries that are committed to democracy and political pluralism.

The Paris Summit in November 1990 ended with the signature of the Paris Charter for a New Europe. The Summit approved a very wide-ranging agreement on conventional weapons, the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty (CFE), which was signed by 22 Member States of the Atlantic Alliance and the former Warsaw Pact. This treaty calls for the creation of a New Security Cooperation Forum and a Conflict Prevention Centre. As a firm believer in preventive diplomacy, France initiated the creation of a Conciliation and Arbitration Tribunal as part of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE). France supported the UN when it created an international criminal tribunal to try war criminals from the former Yugoslavia.

The strong bilateral relationship forged with Russia is based on the conviction that Russia is a partner of increasing importance for France and the EU because of the interest Russia shares in stabilising the region lying between them and in improving security in Europe.

France played a decisive role in the efforts to end the conflicts that tore the former Yugoslavia apart. Then it helped to launch reconstruction and to prepare the new countries that emerged for membership of the EU. France was also one of the countries with the largest commitment to military operations conducted by the Atlantic Alliance under a mandate from the UN, and military operations ordered by the EU in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in Kosovo and Macedonia.

Enlargement to Central and Eastern Europe

Illust: Reception held (...), 8.1 ko, 200x130
Reception held in honour of the
enlargement of the European Union.
April 2004. The 24 EU ambassadors
assigned to Paris, with
Claudie Haigneré, Minister
Delegate for European Affairs.
© Claude Stéfan / M.A.E.

Following the May 2004 accession to the EU of the new democracies in Central and Eastern Europe (Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Slovenia), the Baltic countries (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania) and the Mediterranean countries (Cyprus and Malta), the European Union welcomed Bulgaria and Romania in January 2007. France has participated very actively in the twinning of institutions as part of the European PHARE programme. The twinnings are intended make the administrative expertise of the Member States available to the future Member States so as to facilitate their work in incorporating the ‘acquis communautaire’. Since the start of the programme in 1998, France has taken part in more than one hundred PHARE twinnings in ten Central and Eastern European countries and Baltic countries and it is the lead manager for many of the twinnings.

Europe’s future

France is at the heart of the changes taking place in Europe today.

France and Germany

Illust: Weimar Triangle (...), 8.2 ko, 200x135
Weimar Triangle in Nancy,
A. Kwasniewski, President of the
Polish Republic, J. Chirac, and
G. Schroder, 6-7 May 1999.
© F. de La Mure / M.A.E.

France and Germany have played the leading roles at every step in the European integration process. Without reconciliation between the French and the Germans, the European project would not have been possible, as General de Gaulle and Chancellor Adenauer understood so well. Their joint efforts produced rapprochement between France and Germany, as illustrated by the Elysée Treaty signed on 22 January 1963. The strong personal links between the successive leaders of both countries and thirty years of close relations have established the pattern of French-German Summits, harmonisation meetings and joint preparation of European issues. This pattern involves a growing number of relations between all levels of both governments and has made it possible to develop bilateral relations with a degree of convergence that is unique. In 2013, the fiftieth anniversary of the Elysée Treaty has been celebrated, marking a highpoint in the history of this cooperation.

France and Britain

France and Great Britain were allies in the two world wars of the twentieth century and they have a legacy of historical ties with many areas of the world. Both countries are permanent members of the UN Security Council and their bilateral relations are extraordinarily deep. Their relations were sealed in 1904 when they signed the Entente Cordiale, which put an end to the colonial rivalries between the two European powers. Current cooperation between France and Britain encompasses many critical areas: European defence and asylum and immigration issues. After the European Security and Defence Policy was launched at the Saint-Malo Summit in 1998, France and the United Kingdom created a dynamic that both are striving to maintain. They also intensified their cooperation in the fight against drugs, crime and terrorism and the Touquet and London Summits in 2003 officially expanded the scope of their cooperation to education, health and the environment.
The celebrations for the hundredth anniversary of the Entente Cordiale in 2004 illustrated the depth and the diversity of the links between France and Britain. They also opened up new avenues of cooperation.


  • Violence between Armenia and Azerbaijan (06.06.12)

    The parties must be fully committed to implementing a peaceful settlement based on the respect of the principles of the UN Charter and the Helsinki Final Act, notably the non-use of force, territorial integrity and the right of peoples to self-determination.

  • Belarus – Support for Ales Bialiatski (11.05.12)

    France has, on several occasions, signaled its support for Mr. Bialiatski and its commitment to securing his release. The nomination of this key figure as a candidate for the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize underscores his commitment to defending human rights.

  • Belarus- Release of Andrei Sannikov and Dmitry Bondarenko (16.04.12)

    This gesture constitutes a step in the right direction which we hope will be the first step toward the swift release of all political prisoners, as the EU has been demanding since January 2011, in order to allow the resumption of dialogue between the EU and Belarus to take place on a constructive basis.

  • Croatia Summit (06-07.07.12)

    This conference will provide an opportunity for an exchange of views with the representatives of many States, notably those that would like to join the European Union, including Montenegro, with which accession negotiations were initiated on June 29.

  • Cyprus - Resumption of intercommunity negotiations (11.02.14)

    France welcomes the adoption by President of the Republic of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades, and the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community, Mr. Dervis Eroglu, of the joint declaration allowing the resumption of intercommunity negotiations aimed at the reunification of the island of Cyprus.

  • Georgia – Legislative elections (01.10.12)

    France has taken note of the initial report by the international observation mission (OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights) on the legislative elections held in Georgia on October 1.

    The report clearly indicates that this election represents an important step toward the consolidation of democracy in Georgia, which, for the first time since its independence, is experiencing a democratic change of government.

  • Bernard Cazeneuve’s participation in a meeting of the Weimar Triangle (01.10.12)

    Bernard Cazeneuve, Minister Delegate for European Affairs, will go to Warsaw on October 1 to meet with his Polish and German counterparts, Mr. Piotr Serafin and Mr. Michael Link, within the framework of the regular consultations held in the Weimar Triangle format. Mr. Cazeneuve will also hold bilateral talks with Mr. Serafin and with the members of the Committee for European Union Affairs of the Polish Sejm on the sidelines of this meeting.

  • Laurent Fabius’s visit to Bonn (05.09.12)

    The minister of foreign affairs visited Bonn september 5 in order to participate, together with his German counterpart, Mr. Westerwelle, in the ceremonies organized to mark the anniversary of the meeting between General de Gaulle and Chancellor Adenauer which took place in this city 50 years ago.

  • Hungary – Adoption of proposed constitutional amendments by the Hungarian Parliament (11.03.13)

    Following the adoption of these amendments, the Council of Europe and the European Commission, the guardian of the Treaties, expressed their concern and indicated their intention to conduct a detailed examination of the compatibility of these amendments with European law and principles. France shares these concerns and lends its full support to the Commission and the Council of Europe in their efforts to complete this work.

  • Kosovo – Municipal elections (06.11.13)

    France welcomes the generally smooth conduct of the municipal elections in Kosovo on November 3, 2013. These were the first local elections held throughout the territory of Kosovo. Voter turnout was on the whole satisfactory, notably in the Serbian municipalities in southern Kosovo. This is a sign that the Serbian community is assuming an ever-increasing level of ownership of the institutions in Pristina. It’s a positive step toward democracy in Kosovo.

  • Serbia-Kosovo – Resumption of dialogue (08.11.12)

    France supports the actions of High Representative Catherine Ashton who organized these meetings and her efforts to promote reconciliation in the Balkans region. We hope that the agreements that have already been concluded will be implemented in good faith by the two parties and that the new dynamic under way will result in concrete progress in new areas.

  • Kosovo murders (10.07.12)

    France strongly condemns the murder of a couple who were Kosovo citizens of Serbian origin on Friday, July 6 in the municipality of Ferizaj/ Urosevac in Kosovo. This couple had returned to live in Kosovo in 2004 after having fled their village during the tragic events of 1998-1999.

  • Kosovo – Incidents (04.06.12)

    These incidents demonstrate the need to continue the dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo. The agreements between Belgrade and Pristina must be swiftly implemented. The credibility of the commitments undertaken is at stake.

  • Visit by Laurent Fabius to the Netherlands (21.03.13)

    The discussions will notably focus on the situation in Syria, Operation Serval and the European training mission in Mali, as well as on European issues (deepening of the economic and monetary union, European efforts to promote growth and employment, internal market and free trade agreements between the EU and its major partners). They will also provide an opportunity to discuss issues relating to cultural, scientific and academic cooperation as well as the industrial partnerships between our two countries.

  • Russia – Volgograd Attack (30.12.13)

    In these tragic circumstances, France assures the Russian people and authorities of its full solidarity. It stands by their side in their fight against terrorism.

  • Russia – Amnesty/ Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s release (20.12.13)

    France welcomes the adoption on December 18, 2013, by the State Duma of the Russian Federation of an amnesty law, which will lead to the release of 25,000 prisoners, including two members of the group, "Pussy Riot." We also note that the charges against the members of the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise have been dropped.

  • Russia – France’s support for the work of NGOs and human rights defenders (22.10.12)

    Three Russian human rights defenders and NGO representatives, Tanya Lokshina, Deputy Director of Human Rights Watch’s Moscow office, Igor Kalyapin, Chairman of the Inter-Regional Committee against Torture, and Sergey Babinets, member of the Joint Mobile Group, were received at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on October 17 and 19 by the human rights ambassador and the director responsible for continental Europe.

  • Russia – WTO (22.08.12)

    We welcome this accession which sanctions the entry of a major partner into this organization. We see it as a reflection of Russia’s increasing willingness to be included in an international standards system.

  • Russia – WTO (18.07.12)

    France welcomes the ratification of the protocol of accession to the World Trade Organization by the two chambers of the Russian Parliament.

  • Serbia-Kosovo – Resumption of dialogue (08.11.12)

    France supports the actions of High Representative Catherine Ashton who organized these meetings and her efforts to promote reconciliation in the Balkans region. We hope that the agreements that have already been concluded will be implemented in good faith by the two parties and that the new dynamic under way will result in concrete progress in new areas.

  • Elections in Serbia (06.05.12)

    France commends the OSCE for its mobilization which enabled it to make a decisive contribution to the organization of this ballot. We hope that the second round of these elections can also take place under the best possible conditions.

  • OSCE - Serbian elections in Kosovo (02.05.12)

    France welcomes the completion of negotiations between Serbia, Kosovo and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to enable Serbian voters in Kosovo with dual nationality to take part in the [Serbian] general and presidential elections of May 6 and 20 with the OSCE’s support.

  • Visit by the minister to Madrid and Palma de Mallorca (20-21.07.12)

    He will meet with his Spanish counterpart, Mr. José Manuel García-Margallo on July 20 in Madrid. France enjoys very special relations with Spain, a friendly country with which we share the same attachment to developing close cooperation, notably police and judicial cooperation, the success of which is now apparent.

  • Turkey – PKK (22.03.13)

    France welcomes the announcement by the PKK of its decision to lay down their arms, which is a positive development for the future of Turkey after several decades of conflict.

  • Attacks in Turkey (21.03.13)

    France utterly condemns the attacks perpetrated in the last two days on the buildings belonging to the Turkish Ministry of Justice and the AKP headquarters in Ankara, as well as the explosion that took place near the district of Maltepe, which injured one person.

  • Turkey – Attack (21.08.12)

    France utterly condemns the attack that took place yesterday evening in south-east Turkey, in Gaziantep, which left 9 people dead and injured around 60 others.

  • Turkey – Syria – Syrian refugees (06.04.12)

    The increasing flow of Syrian refugees toward neighboring countries, and especially Turkey, on top of the large number of displaced persons [already] in that country, illustrates the gravity of the situation. France is grateful to those neighbors of Syria that opened their borders, and particularly Turkey, which also provided humanitarian assistance. It notes that the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees itself expressed concern over the situation’s deterioration.

  • Turkey - (Q&A - Excerpt from the daily press briefing - 31.01.12)

    Regarding our relations with Turkey, I will confine myself to reaffirming that we have already had the opportunity on several occasions to signal our attachment to our relations with Turkey, which is an important partner for France in all areas. It’s in this spirit that we will continue to work with the Turkish authorities.

  • Situation in Ukraine - Joint declaration by the Foreign Ministers of Poland, Germany and France (28.02.14)

    We take note of the formation of a transitional government in Ukraine supported by a broad majority of votes in the Ukrainian parliament. This transitional government will have to face immense challenges in order to improve the standards of living of the citizens of Ukraine which can be only achieved through the implementation of the transition and modernization reforms, including fight with corruption, and respect for democratic values. We are ready to support Ukraine in these efforts.

  • Situation in Ukraine - Statement by Laurent Fabius (01.02.14)

    The Ukraine situation shows worrying signs of deterioration. France condemns the intolerable acts of which civilians are the victims and the government’s calls for a state of emergency. We call for an immediate halt to the violence. We would draw all the necessary conclusions from the continuation of such practices.

  • Ukraine – Violence (22.01.14)

    France expresses its deep concern over the serious clashes that have been taking place in the Ukrainian capital for several days.

  • Ukraine (Q&A - Excerpt from the daily press briefing - 19.11.12)

    The OSCE’s preliminary report on the elections in Ukraine indicates that although the elections allowed for the expression of true pluralism and there was no widespread fraud in the voting process itself, numerous irregularities in the election process were identified, which constitutes a step backwards compared with previous elections.

  • Ukraine (Q&A - Excerpt from the daily press briefing - 20.08.12)

    We again urge Ukraine to put an end to the arbitrary administration of the justice system and to comply with the principles of the rule of law and its international obligations. Further rapprochement with the European Union, and notably the signing of the EU-Ukraine association agreement, can only be possible on this basis.

  • Ukraine – "Euro 2012" (04.05.12)

    With the approach of Euro 2012, jointly organized by Poland and Ukraine, which will be an important sporting event, France reiterates her deep concern about developments in the political situation in Ukraine, and the fate of Ms. Tymoshenko in particular.

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