France and Luxembourg

Political relations and most recent visits

Although it shares much of its culture, history and language with the Germanic world, Luxembourg still has a great deal in common with France. There is regular contact between the two countries, both at the level of ministers, the Prime Minister, and the President of the Republic.

In October 2000, Grand Duke Henri and his spouse chose to make an official visit to France for their first visit abroad following their accession to the throne. Mr Bettel, who had just been appointed Prime Minister, travelled to France on 16 December 2013 for his first foreign visit. He met the President of the French Republic again in Paris on 23 August 2016, and in turn, the President made an official visit to Luxembourg on 6 March 2015. The two Prime Ministers, Mr Valls and Mr Bettel, met on 11 April 2016. The Foreign Ministers, Jean Asselborn and Jean-Marc Ayrault, met in April 2016 and 7 March 2017. Furthermore, at the invitation of Jean Asselborn, they took part in a public debate with their German counterpart Sigmar Gabriel on the future of Europe at the Pierre Werner Cultural Institute in Luxembourg on 3 April last.

Economic relations

Luxembourg is a strategic trading partner for France given its geographical proximity and the strength of its economy. France had a bilateral trade surplus of €532 million in 2015. France is Luxembourg’s third-largest customer and fourth-largest supplier (France’s market share, however, remains lower than that of Germany). Around 833 French companies are set up in Luxembourg, employing over 18,000 people, mainly in the banking and insurance sectors. Furthermore, about 90,000 French commuters, mostly from the border region of Lorraine, France, travel to Luxembourg every day for work.

Our economic cooperation also involves integration between business communities, with the creation in France of the Business Club France-Luxembourg (BCFL).

Cultural, scientific and technical cooperation

Our cultural ties are governed by an agreement dating back to 1954.

Luxembourg’s desire to establish itself as a European cultural capital has led to the opening of numerous cultural infrastructures, sometimes established or led by French figures (Pierre Werner Cultural Institute, Luxembourg Museum of Modern Art (MUDAM), Philharmonie). The French-German-Luxembourgish Pierre Werner Cultural Institute, which was inaugurated on 13 October 2003, became the Pierre Werner European Cultural Institute in June 2006. Most of its research and study activities focus on European themes.

Action in support of Luxembourgish (close to German) as a language promoting integration and social cohesion has been a political priority for a number of years, and it has become the main teaching language in primary schools. Whereas children start learning German in their first year of primary school, French is only taught from second year, meaning reduced Francophone influence. The new coalition agreement, adopted in December 2013, includes provisions fostering the teaching of French (parallel literacy teaching in French and encouragement of preparatory classes to facilitate Luxembourgish students’ access to French grandes écoles). A teacher-training partnership agreement between the Luxembourg Ministry for Education and the Lorraine Higher Institute for Teaching and Education was concluded in May 2015. A French-language stream in a public school in Differdange, following the European school model, was also created and helped fill French-language training needs in Luxembourg. Furthermore, a convention signed on 16 July 2012 between the French and Luxembourg Ministries of National Education and Vocational Training created a preparatory class for grandes écoles – an economic course – in a Luxembourgish secondary school, Echternach high school.

Cooperation also takes place in the cross-border field, through the development of the Esch-Belval project focused on research and technology.

The University of Luxembourg and the University of Lorraine cooperate based on several agreements, including under the University of the Greater Region (in the areas of energy efficiency, IT security, the physics of materials, systems biology and European law). There is also an agreement between the French National Research Agency and the Luxembourg National Research Fund to achieve better networking between researchers from France and Luxembourg, particularly in shared priority research areas.

Other cooperation

Our cross-border cooperation, which plays a major role in relations between France and Luxembourg, mainly draws on the Franco-Luxembourgish Intergovernmental Commission (IGC) for the strengthening of cross-border cooperation. The IGC, which met in Luxembourg for the first time in 2011, involves all stakeholders in cross-border cooperation (ministers, prefects and local leaders, etc.). The fifth IGC meeting was held in Luxembourg on 21 November 2016 and was chaired by the Minister of State for European Affairs, Harlem Désir, and Luxembourg’s Minister for Family Affairs, Integration and the Greater Region, Corinne Cahen. On that occasion, a framework agreement on health cooperation was signed. Infrastructure co-financing projects of benefit to people living near the border were also launched following this meeting. In addition to the IGC, the Greater Region (formerly Saar-Lor-Lux regional cooperation) forms another cross-border cooperation framework. It encompasses the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, alongside Lorraine, the German states of Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland, the Walloon Region, and Belgium’s French and German-speaking communities.

Because of Cattenom nuclear power plant’s proximity to Luxembourg, we cooperate very closely in the area of nuclear safety and security. This includes meetings of the joint commission on nuclear security created in 1994, and the involvement of Luxembourgish and German experts in security inspections carried out at the plant. There is agreement in Luxembourg that the plant should be closed and the coalition agreement states that “Luxembourg will continue to make representations to the French and Belgian authorities in order to achieve the closure of the Cattenom and Tihange plants”.

In the area of security, a bilateral agreement between France and Luxembourg on police and customs cooperation was signed in Luxembourg on 15 October 2001. This text established a right of cross-border pursuit and created a “joint centre” in Luxembourg, which was subsequently merged with the Belgian-German-Luxembourg police centre to create an original quadrilateral body. A French-Luxembourg cooperation convention regarding joint border checks on the Dudelange-Zoufftgen motorway was also signed in Luxembourg on 26 January 2016.

Updated: 28 April 2017

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