France and Poland

Political relations

The Franco-Polish relation is governed by a strategic partnership agreement signed in 2008 and renewed in 2013 and relations were particularly close between 2012 and 2015. The most recent intergovernmental consultations between the two countries were held on 15 January 2015 in Paris. Bilateral dialogue is accompanied by trilateral Franco-German-Polish dialogue within the scope of the Weimar Triangle, which was launched in 1991 to facilitate German-Polish rapprochement and went on to become one of the instruments for Poland’s Euro-Atlantic integration.

Visits

The French President and Prime Minister have visited Poland and hosted their counterparts in Paris many times, most notably as part of the intergovernmental consultations which were held in Warsaw on 29 November 2013 and Paris on 30 January 2015. The President of the Polish Republic, Mr Andrzej Duda, made an official visit to France on 28 October 2015 where he met with the French President. The Polish Prime Minister, Ms Beata Szydło, was received by the French President on 3 February 2016.

The French Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development received his counterpart, Mr Witold Waszczykowski, on 3 June 2016. He visited Poland on 13 June where he met with the Prime Minister, Ms Beata Szydło, Mr Witold Waszczykowski, and representatives of the majority and opposition. The Minister and his counterpart also met as part of a ministerial meeting of the Visegrad Group on 27 June 2016 in Prague which was extended to include France and Germany. As part of the celebrations for the 25th anniversary of the Weimar Triangle, the Minister visited his German and Polish counterparts, Mr Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Mr Witold Waszczykowski, on 28 August 2016 in Weimar. The following day they opened the work of the annual conference of German ambassadors in Berlin. The three ministers also visited Kiev on 14 September 2016. The new French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Mr Jean-Yves Le Drian, met with Mr Witold Waszczykowski in Paris on 7 June during an OECD ministerial meeting.

The Minister of State for European Affairs visited Warsaw on 4 December 2015 where he met his Polish counterparts. He visited Warsaw again on 13 and 14 June 2016 for a Weimar format meeting.

Economic relations

Poland is France’s leading trading partner in Central and Eastern Europe (€17bn in annual trade in 2016) and is the leading destination for French investment in the region (stock of nearly €18bn in 2015, with over 920 French companies who employ nearly 200,000 staff). French exports to Poland reached €8.2bn in 2016 and Polish imports to France totalled €9.1bn. While France’s trade balance was positive until 2008, it became negative in 2009 and reached -€0.9bn in 2016.

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Cultural, educational, scientific and technical cooperation

University and scientific cooperation between France and Poland is very significant with 76 double degrees, the Polonium integrated action programme and institutional relations developed between the main French and Polish research bodies (agreements between the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) and the Polish Sciences Academy, many grants awarded). Priority is given to European and trilateral projects together with Germany. The University of Warsaw is home to the French Civilization and Francophone Studies Centre (CCFEF), a research hub and conference and debate centre.

Linguistic and educational cooperation aims to maintain French as the fourth most spoken foreign language. Some 12.6% of high school students learn French in secondary education but only 0.8% during their primary education since a foreign language became compulsory due to English being favoured by 99% of students. In total, around 280,000 students are learning French. Some 27 middle and high schools have 36 bilingual sections teaching a total of 3,675 students. The French René Goscinny High School in Warsaw teaches 766 students of which 25% are Polish.

In July 2016, the Polish Education Minister, Ms Anna Zalewska, announced significant reforms to the education system which are to be implemented from the start of the 2017 academic year. The reforms aim to modify the organization of primary and secondary education and could have a negative impact on the bilingual French-speaking classes.

In addition to the Institut français branches in Warsaw and Krakow, 7 Alliance française branches are located in the Polish provinces (Katowice, Łódź, Lublin, Gdańsk, Szczecin, Toruń and Wrocław).

Poland has been an observer member of the International Organisation of La Francophonie (IOF) since 1997.

From 2017 to 2021, centenary commemorations of the First World War and the renaissance of an independent Polish State will be an opportunity to carry outshared initiatives both in France and Poland. An exhibition dedicated to the Blue (Haller’s) Army will most notably be on display at the Royal Castle in Warsaw throughout summer 2017 and then in Paris in 2018.

Active decentralised cooperation (175 twinning agreements and 350 cooperation projects recorded at all local government levels) is a precious means of influence.

  • Ambassador of France in Poland: Mr Pierre Lévy (since September 2016)
  • Chargé d’affaires at the Polish Embassy in France: Mr Dariusz Wiśniewski
  • President of the France-Poland friendship group in the National Assembly: Mr Jean Launay (SRC Party)
  • President of the France-Poland friendship group in the Senate: Mr Jean-Pierre Leleux (Les Républicains Party)

Updated: 09/06/2017

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