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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 that have nuclear weapons and are permanent members of the United Nations Security Council. Both countries have international ambitions and the political and military tools to match, often sharing similar approaches within international organizations, including the UN.

Our bilateral relations are driven by regular contacts at all levels, including annual summits. Joint initiatives, in particular during the financial crisis, have been frequent and productive. Dialogue in the context of the French Presidency of the G8/G20 was significant at many levels, and the British Prime Minister chaired a working group on global governance. The 33ʳᵈ Franco-British 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 treaties, 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), the capabilities aspect, the research and development aspect, and the industrial aspect (missiles) of our military cooperation. Among other provisions, it provides for 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 committed in bilateral operations but also in the framework 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 will become operational in 2016.

The Franco-British 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).

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

Commemorations of the centenary of the First World War

£50 million (€62 million) were allocated to the commemoration programme of the United Kingdom, 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

• 31 January 2014: visit to RAF Brize Norton by the President of the Republic and the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Defence, Energy and Research for the 33ʳᵈ Franco-British summit.
• 6-7 March 2014: visit by the Minister of Culture and Communication to London.
• 21 March 2014: visit by the Minister Delegate for Development to London.
• 15 July 2014: visit by the Minister of Defence to the Farnborough International Airshow.
• 11 September 2014: visit by the Secretary of State for European Affairs to London.
• 6 October 2014: visit by the Prime Minister to London.
• 10 November 2014: visit by the Minister of Defence to London.
• 17 November 2014: visit by the Minister of the Economy and Finance to London.
• 2 February 2015: visit by the Minister of Defence to London.
• 23 March 2015: visit by the Minister of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy to London.
• 22 September 2015: visit by the President of the Republic to London and Chequers.
• 29 October 2015: visit by the Minister of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy to London.

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, Michael Fallon, to Paris.
• 16 September 2014: visit by Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, to Paris.
• 30 October 2014: visit by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.
• 11 January 2015: visit by Prime Minister David Cameron and Home Secretary Theresa May.
• 15 February 2015: visit by David Lidington, Minister of State for Europe, to Paris.
• 28 May 2015: visit by Prime Minister David Cameron to Paris.
• 27 July 2015: visit by Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, to Paris.
• 20 August 2015: visit by Home Secretary Theresa May to Calais.
• 24 September 2015: visit by Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, to Paris.
• 23 November 2015: visit by Prime Minister David Cameron to Paris.

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 explained in large part by 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 the United Kingdom (2013 – Invest in France Agency): 2000 companies – more than 200,000 jobs
• Bilateral trade balance (2014): €10.68 billion
• Total trade (2014): €49.9 billion
• French FDI outflow (2013): €972 million;

Statistical sources: French Directorate-General of the Treasury (February 2015)

Cultural, scientific and technical cooperation

Cultural and scientific exchanges, which involve a great number of actors, are developing through direct links between universities, museums, institutes, research centres and foundations. Our cooperation seeks to promote the French language and teaching thereof, debate, and academic cooperation in the humanities, particularly with 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, contemporary 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, will open in September 2015.

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

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

Other types of 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 in the framework of a series of bilateral agreements, in particular the 1991 Sangatte Protocol and the Le Touquet Treaty of 4 February 2003. It particularly 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: 14/12/2015

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