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France-Australia Joint Statement - On the official visit to Australia by French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Catherine Colonna - Australian Parliament House, Canberra (4 December 2023)

Australia and France share a commitment to a dynamic bilateral relationship founded on trust, shared values and shared interests, globally and in the Indo-Pacific, in line with the priorities agreed by the President of the French Republic, Emmanuel Macron, and Australian Prime Minister Anthony (…)

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France and Australia

Political relations

The bilateral relationship between France and Australia, which dates back to World War I, is based on common interests and values (defending multilateralism and law, the peaceful settlement of disputes).

The relationship soured in 2021 following the termination of the contract to build twelve ocean submarines signed with Naval Group. However, Prime Minister Albanese, who formed part of the Australian opposition at the time, indicated his desire to “repair the bilateral relationship with France”. Following the elections in May 2022 and the new government led by Prime Minister Albanese coming into office, a compensation agreement of €555 million was signed with Naval Group as a settlement for the contract termination.

Furthermore, the discussions between President Macron and Prime Minister Albanese have confirmed the shared determination to rebuild a bilateral relationship of trust.
A joint statement published on 1 July 2022, upon Anthony Albanese’s visit to France, confirmed the shared desire to rebuild the bilateral relationship and develop a roadmap underpinned by three pillars: defence and security, resilience and climate action, and education and culture.

In the Pacific, France’s presence and that of its three overseas communities (New Caledonia, French Polynesia and Wallis and Futuna), which Australia supported in their accession as members of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF – the main regional political organization) is today seen as an important element of stability in its regional environment.

French presence

The number of French people registered as living outside France temporarily dropped following the public health crisis (by about 14% between 2019 and 2021). However, in 2022, the number of French nationals registered in Australia reached 23,582, a rise of 11.06% compared to 2021. The borders fully reopened in July 2022.


French visits to Australia

September 2022: Visit by the Minister Delegate for Foreign Trade, Economic Attractiveness and French Nationals Abroad to Sydney and Canberra
November 2019: Visit by the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs to Melbourne and Adelaide
May 2018: Visit by the President of the Republic to Sydney

Australian visits to France

September 2023: Visit to Paris by the Minister for Resources and for Northern Australia, Ms Madeleine King, and the Minister for Aged Care and Sport, Ms Anika Wells.
January 2023: Visit to Paris by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence, Mr Richard Marles, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ms Penny Wong.
September 2022: Visit to France by the Australian Minister of Defence, Mr Richard Marles
July 2022: Visit to France by the Australian Prime Minister, Mr Anthony Albanese
June 2021: Visit to France by the Australian Prime Minister, Mr Scott Morrison
August 2019: Participation of the Australian Prime Minister, Mr Scott Morrison, in the G7 in Biarritz


September 2023: Meeting between the French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Ms Catherine Colonna and her counterpart Ms Penny Wong on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
30 January 2023: Consultations held between the Minister for the Armed Forces, Mr Sébastien Lecornu, and his counterpart, Mr Richard Marles, and the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Ms Catherine Colonna, and her counterpart, Ms Penny Wong.

Economic relations

Trade and direct investment are an essential part of our strong bilateral relationship. Australia accounts for our 5th largest trade surplus (almost €2 billion in 2020). Over 600 French companies are set up there (employing 70,000 people).

Cultural, scientific and technical cooperation

Academic, scientific and technical cooperation is dynamic, thanks to an increase in partnerships and mobility exchanges of students and researchers in both directions. French researchers present in Australia are organized around the AFRAN network (Australian-French Association for Research and Innovation), launched in 2016 by our embassy. Since April 2021, the signing of a bilateral Science and Technology roadmap, drafted following the Joint Science and Technology Meeting institutional dialogue in 2019, helps strengthen booming scientific cooperation, which in practical terms resulted in the recent opening of a National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) office in Melbourne.
French is the third most studied language in Australia (250,000 students, six schools approved by the French Ministry for National Education and Youth; network of 30 Alliances Françaises, six of which are under contract). The network of French-language schools in Australia is structured around the Australian Association of French-English Bilingual Schools (AAFEBS). Today, this association has 16 members: the six Ministry-approved schools, the four schools that have been granted the LabelFranceEducation label, and six Australian schools with a French immersion programme.

Working holiday visas, for 15-35 year olds, allow over 20,000 young French people to work or live in Australia each year (this figure corresponds to the period before the borders closed in March 2020). A record number of 26,896 French people were granted one of these visas between July 2022 and June 2023. Since it was created in 2003, more than 350,000 people have benefited from the programme. France is a key cultural partner of Australia, a country under strong American influence and which seeks to increase its visibility in the culture field on the international stage. Cooperation is undertaken via partnerships and largely funded by Australian operators:

  • success of the French Film Festival, with almost 195,000 spectators in 2019, more than 175,000 in 2023;
  • several emblematic exhibitions in terms of museum cooperation.

The Australian cultural and creative industries market, while relatively small, is very dynamic. It ranks sixth worldwide for music, is highly active in the cinema sector and its book trade is constantly buoyant thanks to online sales.

Updated: 19 December 2023