- French Ambassador to the United Kingdom: Ms Sylvie Bermann (since September 2014).
- British Ambassador to France: Lord Edward Llewellyn (since 9 November 2016)
Our bilateral relations are driven by frequent contact at all levels, including regular summits. 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.
Defence cooperation is the most structural component of our bilateral relationship. Together, our combined defence budgets account for half the defence spending of the European Union. Our cooperation is governed by the 2010 Lancaster House treaties, with operational and armament cooperation aspects as well as the objective of forging closer ties between our defence industries. The progress of our cooperation in these three areas is kept track of in dedicated formats, with regular meetings.
The year 2016 saw very positive results in all three areas: the declaration of the operational capability of the Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF), a binational force with up to 10,000 troops deployable at very short notice and capable of implementing high-intensity operations; the launch of the development phase of the new generation of Future Combat Air System (FCAS) aircraft; and the signing of an agreement on collaboration between our missile industries. The United Kingdom provided logistical support to French operations in Mali and the Central African Republic, demonstrating the quality of our defence cooperation.
The UK’s 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) is in favour of continuing our bilateral cooperation in the Lancaster House framework.
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).
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 Minister of State for Europe, Mr David Lidington, to Paris.
- 23 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.
- 3 March 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), to Amiens.
- 3-4 May 2016: visit by Minister of State for Europe, Mr David Lidington.
- 21 July 2016: visit by the Prime Minister, Ms Theresa May.
- 28 July 2016: visit by the Foreign Secretary, Mr Boris Johnson.
- 30 August 2016: visit by the Home Secretary, Ms Amber Rudd.
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 (2015): €31.6 billion.
Transport equipment (19.5%), mechanical equipment (17.3%) and agrifood products (15%).
Imports from the United Kingdom to France (2015): €19.339 billion.
French companies in the United Kingdom (2015 – Directorate-General of the Treasury): 4,442 companies – 379,455 jobs.
British companies in the United Kingdom (2013 – Invest in France Agency): 2000 companies – more than 200,000 jobs.
Bilateral trade balance (2015): €12.199 billion.
Total trade (2015): €50.8 billion.
French FDI outflow (2013): €972 million
Statistics: French Directorate-General of the Treasury (February 2015)
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 1,000 pupils, opened in September 2015.
There are almost 14,000 French students in the UK, while about 3,000 British students are studying in France.
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.
The 20 August 2015 joint ministerial declaration on UK/French cooperation provides a roadmap for the development of enhanced bilateral cooperation in order to address the migration crisis. Our priorities include dismantling people smuggling networks, establishing dialogue with countries of origin and transit, and supporting vulnerable people.
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: 4 November 2016