France and Austria


Political relations

France and Austria maintain friendly political relations.

Austria and France share many converging views on European issues (search for balance between fiscal rigour and support for growth, revision of the Posting of Workers Directive, enhanced cooperation on the financial transaction tax long promoted by Austria, commitment to the Common Agricultural Policy, etc.). There are frequent contacts at ministerial level.

The Austrian President, Mr Fischer, visited France on 5 and 6 November 2013, meeting with the President of the French Republic, the Prime Minister and the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

The Federal Chancellor, Mr Werner Faymann, was received by the President of the Republic in October 2012, October 2015 and February 2016 and by the Prime Minister in June and August 2014. The French Prime Minister, Mr Jean-Marc Ayrault, visited Vienna in January 2014, while his successor, Manuel Valls, visited in November 2014 and September 2015.

The Austrian Federal Minister for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs, Mr Sebastian Kurz, joined the republican march in Paris on 11 January 2015, while the Minister of the Interior, Ms Johanna Mikl-Leitner, attended the G10 meeting organized by the French Interior Minister Mr Bernard Cazeneuve. Mr Kurz met with Mr Ayrault on 4 July and 8 December 2016.

The French Minister for the Economy and Finance, Bruno Le Maire, met his Austrian counterpart, Mr Hans Jörg Schelling, in Vienna on 29 July 2017.

The President of the French Republic met Chancellor Christian Kern for a bilateral meeting and a Slavkov (Austria, Slovakia and Czech Republic) format meeting, which brought together the Heads of Government of Slovakia and the Czech Republic in Salzburg on 23 August 2017. He also received Federal Chancellor Kurz in Paris on 12 January 2018, during the latter’s first official visit abroad.

The Austro-French Centre for Rapprochement in Europe is an instrument of bilateral dialogue

The Austro-French Centre (AFC) for Rapprochement in Europe was created in 1978 on the initiative of the Austrian Federal Chancellor, Mr Bruno Kreisky, and President Jacques Chirac to foster contacts between Western Europe and the Eastern Bloc. The AFC is based in Vienna and financed equally by both governments. It organizes conferences and seminars followed by publications on bilateral relations and major European issues with a specific focus on Central and Eastern Europe and the Balkans.

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Economic relations

At the end of 2013, there were 331 French businesses in Austria employing 16,117 people. In 2014, France was the sixth-largest investor in Austria. The vast majority (60%) of French investment goes to the business services sector. Financial services account for 11% of investment. Many companies are regional in scope and use Austria as a bridgehead towards Central and Eastern European countries and beyond. This is notably the case of companies such as Air Liquide, Alcatel Lucent, JC Decaux and VINCI Energies.

France is Austria’s seventh-largest supplier (behind Germany, Italy, China, Switzerland, the United States and the Czech Republic), with a market share of 2.7%. French exports mainly consist of intermediate goods, professional equipment and automotive industry products. French luxury goods and food products are highly regarded by consumers in Austria.

France is Austria’s fifth-largest customer (behind Germany, Italy, the United States and Switzerland). Over the past ten years imports have further increased and gradually done away with our recurrent surplus: the balance now shows a deficit of €1.1 billion, of which €0.5 billion in pharmaceuticals.

Cultural, scientific and technical cooperation

French remains the most widely studied foreign language in Austria after English (9.6% of pupils learn it). In view of the importance given to French by the Austrian authorities in their education system, Austria gained observer status at the International Organisation of La Francophonie (IOF) in 2006.

Our cultural relations are especially close. Many French artists, musicians and intellectuals are received regularly in Austria.

Cultural cooperation between France and Austria is carried out by the Institut français in Vienna of which the work is based on the priorities of French cultural diplomacy, including partnerships with Austrian institutions, “Beyond the Walls” events in Vienna and other regions of Austria, and renewal of teaching and communication tools.

The French school (lycée) of Vienna was founded in 1946 and currently has more than 1,900 pupils at all school levels, of whom 39% are Austrian, 41% are French, and 20% are from third countries.

Academic and education cooperation programmes are many and diverse. France is the fifth-most popular destination for Austrian students behind Germany, Switzerland, the United States and the United Kingdom.

In the scientific field, cooperation develops directly between research laboratories and organizations (French National Centre for Scientific Research – CNRS, French Institute of Health and Medical Research – INSERM, French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission – CEA), as well as under the Hubert-Curien Amadeus Integrated Action Plan (IAP). France is Austria’s fifth-largest scientific partner.

Updated: 12 April 2018