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France and United Kingdom

• French Ambassador to the United Kingdom: Ms Sylvie Bermann (since September 2014).
• British Ambassador to France: Sir Peter Ricketts since February 2012 (presentation of credentials on 11 July 2012).

Political relations

France and the United Kingdom are the only two European countries with nuclear weapons and are permanent members of the United Nations Security Council. Both have international ambitions and the political and military tools to match, often sharing similar approaches within international organizations such as the UN.

Our bilateral relations are driven by regular contacts at all levels, including annual summits. Joint initiatives have been frequent and productive, in particular during the financial crisis. Dialogue during the French Presidency of the G8 and G20 was significant at many levels, and the British Prime Minister chaired a working group on global governance. The 33ʳᵈ UK-France Summit (31 January 2014) took place at the RAF Brize Norton base, marking the vitality of Franco-British defence cooperation, particularly as regards capabilities. Following the conclusion of the trade agreement on the construction of two EPR reactors on the Hinkley Point site, energy was a major issue at the last summit. Several agreements will help strengthen synergies between our nuclear sectors. Space is also the subject of promising recent cooperation, and the French Space Agency (CNES) and the UK Space Agency are working together on Earth observation.

Defence cooperation

The 31ˢᵗ bilateral summit held in London on 2 November 2010 marked a turning point for our relations in defence matters. The President of the French Republic and the British Prime Minister signed two major texts, known as the “Lancaster House” treaties, which were ratified in spring 2011 and are now in force.

• The first is a defence and security treaty, concerning the operational aspect (joint exercises), capabilities, research and development, and the industrial aspect (missiles) of our military cooperation. Its provisions include pooling of assets;
• The second is a specific treaty, made possible by the first, on common facilities for nuclear cooperation. The treaties also provide for the creation of a Combined Joint Expeditionary Force, a rapidly deployable force that could be deployed in bilateral operations and as part of international coalitions. Large-scale exercises of the naval component (October 2012), air component (October 2013) and army component (May 2014) have marked major phases in the build-up of the Combined Joint Expeditionary Force, which was declared operational in April 2016.

The UK-France summit of February 2012 supplemented the Lancaster House commitments through the announcement of the creation of a deployable Combined Joint Force Headquarters, expanded numbers of exchange officers, and a joint programme to develop combat drones.

The Brize Norton summit (31 January 2014) maintained the momentum of our defence cooperation. In accordance with the roadmap set out on 31 January 2014, the British and French defence ministers signed agreements in Farnborough on 15 July that year to initiate a feasibility study for a Future Combat Air System (FCAS).

Lastly, the Amiens Summit on 3 March 2016 enshrined once more our cooperation in the medium to long term following conducive budget decisions in the UK’s 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR).

UK logistical support in Mali and the Central African Republic have demonstrated the quality of our defence cooperation.

Commemorations of the centenary of the First World War

£50 million (€62 million) was allocated to the UK’s commemoration programme, covering, in addition to the commemorations of joining the war (4 August 2014), the events marking the beginning of the Battle of the Somme (1 July 2016) and other events to mark the Battles of Jutland, Gallipoli and Passchendaele and the signing of the Armistice (11 November 2018).

Visits

French visits to the United Kingdom

23-24 September 2015: visit by the Minister of the Economy, Mr Emmanuel Macron
28-29 September 2015: visit by the Minister of State for Veterans and Remembrance, Mr Jean-Marc Todeschini
11 October 2015: visit by the Minister of Urban Affairs, Youth and Sport, Mr Patrick Kanner (Rugby World Cup)
17-18 October 2015: visit by the Minister of State for Sports, Mr Thierry Braillard (Rugby World Cup)
28-29 October 2015: visit by the Minister of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy, Ms Ségolène Royal
29-30 October 2015: visit by the Minister of State for the Digital Sector, Ms Axelle Lemaire
2 November 2015, visit by the Minister of the Interior, Mr Bernard Cazeneuve
11 November 2015: visit by the Minister of State for the Digital Sector, Ms Axelle Lemaire
11 October 2015: visit by the Minister of Urban Affairs, Youth and Sport, Mr Patrick Kanner (France-England football match)
10 December 2015, visit by the Minister of the Interior, Mr Bernard Cazeneuve (Interior Ministers’ G6)
4 February 2016: visit by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, Mr Laurent Fabius (humanitarian conference on Syria)
5-6 October 2016: visit by the Minister of State for Sports, Mr Thierry Braillard (European Track Cycling Championships)
14 April 2016: visit by the Minister of the Economy, Mr Emmanuel Macron
14-18 April 2016: visit by the Minister of State for the Digital Sector, Ms Axelle Lemaire
21 April 2016: visit by the Minister of Defence, Mr Jean-Yves Le Drian (Griffin Strike exercise)
11-12 May 2016: visit by the Minister of Finance, Mr Michel Sapin

British visits to France

5-7 June 2014: State visit by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, for the commemoration of the 70ᵗʰ anniversary of the Normandy Landings
31 July 2014: visit by the Secretary of State for Defence, Mr Michael Fallon, to Paris
16 September 2014: visit by the Foreign Secretary, Mr Philip Hammond, to Paris
30 October 2014: visit by the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Nick Clegg, to Paris
11 January 2015: visit by the Prime Minister, Mr David Cameron, and the Home Secretary, Ms Theresa May
15 February 2015: visit by the Secretary of State for Europe, Mr David Lidington, to Paris
28 May 2015: visit by the Prime Minister, Mr David Cameron, to Paris
27 July 2015: Visit by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr George Osborne, to Paris
20 August 2015: visit by the Home Secretary, Ms Theresa May, to Calais
24 September 2015: visit by the Foreign Secretary, Mr Philip Hammond, to Paris
23 November 2015 : visit by the Prime Minister, Mr David Cameron, to Paris
03 mars 2016 : visit by the Prime Minister, Mr David Cameron, the Home Secretary, Ms Theresa May, the Foreign Secretary, Mr Philip Hammond, and the Secretary of State for Defence, Mr Michael Fallon (UK-France Summit)
3-4 May 2016 : visit by the Secretary of State for Europe, Mr David Lidington

Economic relations

There is considerable trade between our two countries, and in 2014, the UK was France’s fifth-largest export market (€30,279 billion) and eighth-largest supplier (€19,593 billion of imports). France is the fifth-largest customer and fifth-largest supplier of the UK, with a market share of almost 6%.

For the ninth year running, the United Kingdom remained France’s largest bilateral trade surplus (€10.68 billion for goods) in 2014.

On services, France is one of the few countries to generate a surplus vis-à-vis the United Kingdom (€3.1 billion in 2012), due to tourism. The bilateral surplus is due in large part to good performance in the transport equipment and pharmaceuticals sectors.

Recent major contracts have included the selection of EDF Energy in late 2013 for the planned Hinkley Point C nuclear plant (two EPRs), one of the UK’s largest investments since the Second World War.

Exports from France to the United Kingdom (2014): €30,279 billion
Imports from the United Kingdom to France (2014): €19,593 billion
French companies in the United Kingdom (2011 – INSEE): 3232 companies – 379,455 jobs
British companies in France (2013 – Invest in France Agency) 2000 companies – 200,000 jobs
Bilateral trade balance (2014): €10.68 billion
Total trade (2014): €49.9 billion
French FDI outflow (2013): €972 million
Statistics: French Directorate-General of the Treasury (February 2015)

Cultural, scientific and technical cooperation

Cultural and scientific exchanges involve a great number of actors and are developing through direct links between universities, museums, institutes, research centres and foundations. Our cooperation seeks to promote the French language and its teaching, debate, and academic cooperation in the humanities, particularly with the University of Cambridge. There is also an ongoing policy of supporting the cultural industries and French exporters on a highly buoyant market in many areas, including contemporary music and art, publishing, cinema and the audiovisual sector, and video games.

The bilateral administrative arrangement on educational cooperation, signed on 9 June 2006, provides an official framework and momentum in this sector, which involves teacher training, school partnerships and exchanges on themes of common interest. The UK remains the Western European country (excluding Belgium and Switzerland) where French is most widely studied.

Following the opening in September 2011 of the bilingual French school in London (Collège français bilingue de Londres) with 700 places, the new international Lycée Winston Churchill (North-West London), with a capacity of over 1000 pupils, opened in September 2015.

There are almost 14,000 French students in the UK, while about 3000 British students are studying in France.

Further information: www.institut-francais.org.uk/

Other cooperation

Cooperation on security and combating illegal immigration

Cooperation in combating illegal immigration is a priority of the UK authorities and our bilateral cooperation which is multi-faceted and implemented under a series of bilateral agreements, including the 1991 Sangatte Protocol and the Le Touquet Treaty of 4 February 2003. It involves the implementation of border checks in the Channel and North Sea ports and the organization of juxtaposed control stations, especially on the Channel Tunnel Fixed Link. Respective information centres have been set up in Calais and Folkestone.

Moreover, France and the United Kingdom worked closely together to ensure the safety and security of the Olympic and Paralympic Games in London, which were held from 27 July to 12 August 2012 and from 29 August to 9 September 2012 respectively.

Channel Tunnel

The current legal regime applicable to the Channel Tunnel Fixed Link is defined by the provisions of the Treaty of Canterbury of 12 February 1986 concerning the Construction and Operation by Private Concessionaires of a Channel Fixed Link and the provisions of the quadripartite Concession of 14 March 1986 between the French and British Governments and the concessionaire Eurotunnel. An Intergovernmental Commission (IGC) was established “to supervise, in the name and on behalf of the two Governments, all matters concerning the construction and operation of the Fixed Link.” It holds regulatory powers as regards the Fixed Link.

Updated: 17 May 2016

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