France and Denmark


Political relations

The Danish royal family has very strong links with France. Prince Consort Henrik, who died in February 2018, was a French diplomat before his marriage. Queen Margrethe II continues to make very regular visits to France. The Danish princes speak French. The Queen’s youngest son, Prince Joachim, moved to Paris for a year in September 2019 with his French wife in order to attend a training course at the French Institute for Higher National Defence Studies (IHEDN).

Political relations between France and Denmark are long-standing, sustained and marked by confidence. The two countries are important partners for each other due to their memberships of the European Union and NATO. In addition, our analyses converge on many international policy issues (peacekeeping, interest in preventive actions in Africa, primacy of international law, environment). These close ties are expected to get even closer. From a political perspective, Denmark is trying to reposition itself in Europe and France is an essential partner for this. The confirmed European profile of the new Social-Democrat government has a lot in common with France’s positions (climate, Brexit, Schengen, enlargement, social dumping, Africa). Security and defence cooperation between France and Denmark has been enhanced. Denmark is participating in the European Intervention Initiative, the European Development Fund and contributes significantly to the military missions under French command in Africa. In addition to this institutional cooperation, the positive interest that the Danish “model” (environment, healthcare, innovation) incites in France has led to frequent visits by political and administrative officials and members of civil society.

For more information, visit the website of the French Embassy in Denmark.


On 28 and 29 August 2018, the French President made a historic State visit, making him the first French Head of State to visit Denmark in over 35 years. This visit gave unprecedented momentum to our bilateral cooperation. Several cooperation agreements and letters of intent were signed during the visit (defence, development, energy and climate, cinema coproduction, university cooperation, ethical fashion, shareholder foundation) which also brought large-scale media and public visibility.

The visit to Paris by Prince Frederik and Princess Mary (next in line to the Danish crown), from 6 to 8 October 2019, helped strengthen economic and trade ties between the two countries. The couple was accompanied by a delegation of over 50 Danish businesses interested in the healthcare, energy and sustainable cities sectors. The visit led to the signature of two statements of intent in the fields of health and digital technology. On the occasion of the visit, the French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Mr Jean-Yves Le Drian, met his Danish counterpart, Mr Jeppe Kofod, on 7 October 2019, and the Minister of State for European Affairs, Ms Amélie de Montchalin, participated in the closing dinner and visit to the Hôtel de Ville in Paris on 8 October 2019.

Economic relations

From an economic perspective, the ties between our two countries have become significantly closer over recent years both in terms of trade and investment. More and more tourists are expected to make visits back and forth between our two countries ahead of the Tour de France in Denmark in 2021.

a) Trade

France’s trade with Denmark increased to an unprecedented €5.86 billion in 2018, making it our 33rd-largest trading partner and the only one in Nordic Europe with whom France has a trade surplus. The surplus was, however, halved in 2018 (from 162.5 million to €59 million) due to the rapid increase of France’s imports. After €2.9 billion in imported goods, equivalent to 3.4% of total Danish exports, France is Denmark’s 9th-largest customer (behind Germany (14%), Switzerland (12%) and United States (8.3%)).

France’s exports, by over 13,300 businesses, are also increasing (up 5% year on year since 2014 to reach nearly €3 billion), and represent nearly a quarter of France’s exports to the Nordic zone (Sweden receives 43% of French exports to the region). With a market share settled around 3%, France is Denmark’s 10th-largest supplier who mainly imports from its neighbours (Germany, Sweden, Netherlands) and China.

Transport equipment, mainly from the automotive industry, is France’s main export to Denmark (21%), while industrial, agricultural and general machinery are France’s main import (16%). The rest of trade between France and Denmark is split between agrifood industry products (14% of France’s imports, mainly pork meat, and 13% of our exports), and pharmaceutical products (14.5% of France’s imports and 12.5% of France’s exports). In 2018, France became the leading wine exporter to Denmark (DKK 1.04 billion, around €141 million), ahead of Italy which France knocked off top spot.

b) Investments

French foreign direct investment in Denmark reached over €12 billion in 2018, making France the third-largest foreign investor in Denmark, behind Sweden and the Netherlands. It has increased twelve-fold since 2007 and two-fold since 2017 mainly due to two large-scale operations in spring 2018: the purchase of Maersk Oil by Total for nearly $7.5 billion, and the acquisition of Cubris, the Danish leader in assisted driving systems for mainline trains, by Thales.

Nearly 220 French businesses are located in Denmark, employing over 13,000 people (including 34 individuals participating in the International Corporate Volunteerism programme) representing a total of nearly €4 billion in turnover. These French businesses are present in a variety of sectors: energy (Total, Veolia through Krüger), manufacturing industry (Saint-Gobain), urban transport (Keolis), IT services (Atos, Capgemini), finance (BNP Paribas), real estate (Unibail, Klepierre), automotive (Renault), and electronics (Thales).

The stock of Danish foreign direct investment in France totals nearly €6 billion, making Denmark our 12th-largest investor. In 2018, France was the second destination for Danish job-creating investments in Europe (19%), behind the United Kingdom (29%) but ahead of Germany (14%). Investments are concentrated in the furniture and medicine and biotechnology sectors (15% each), energy sector (13%) including renewable energies and recycling, agrifood industry (11%) and IT (10%).

Over 350 Danish businesses were present in France in 2018 (of which 14 are ranked in the Forbes 2000), representing approximately 40,000 businesses. The main Danish businesses present in France include ISS World Services, which accounts for 24,500 jobs alone, followed by Novo Nordisk (medicines and biotechnology – 1,500 jobs), Carlsberg (1,200 jobs) and Demant (hearing aids – 1,200 jobs).

Cultural, scientific and technical cooperation

Scientific cooperation between our two countries covers all areas of excellence in Danish research (environment, micro and nano engineering, health, ICT, surveys and studies on Greenland). It is implemented mainly through relations between the various French and Danish research centres as, for example, with the signing of a Partnership Agreement in 2006 between the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) and the Danish National Research Foundation (DNRF). The Institut Français in Denmark is continuing this policy to support the mobility of French researchers. It also finances events designed to promote scientific cooperation projects between France and the Nordic countries on themes directly linked to the Horizon 2020 programme, and organizes scientific conferences on various themes.

Cultural and artistic cooperation is primarily dedicated to promoting cultural industries, particularly cinema cooperation with the French Film Festival which screens 25 French films every year. Artistic exchanges in the fields of visual arts (photo, contemporary art), performance arts (dance, theatre, circus), classical, contemporary and jazz music are supported through partnerships created with Danish festivals.

Lastly, partnerships with the University of Copenhagen, the Royal Library, Cristiania, the Golden Days festival cover the fields of scientific culture and debate and discussion. They help give French intellectuals and scientists an important role in their programmes.

For more information, visit:


Formerly part of Denmark, Greenland became a province of the Kingdom in 1953 and it was granted home rule on 1 May 1979. The autonomous status of the island was strengthened in 2009 with the Self-Government Act which devolved the fields of policing and justice to the local government. Today, Denmark only has exclusive jurisdiction on defence, citizenship and currency while issues relating to foreign policy are shared with Greenland’s government. The Naalakkersuisut can also negotiate and conclude international treaties, in the name of the Kingdom of Denmark, in fields in which it has unique jurisdiction.

Greenland’s autonomy movement is strongly supported by the local population (70.1% in favour of autonomy at the referendum of 1979 and 75.4% at the 2008 referendum). This trend is found in Greenland’s political landscape, as only the Demokraatit party is against the independence process.

Greenland is developing its own foreign relations, mainly guided by its interests in the fisheries industry, with the North Atlantic and Asia. Cooperation agreements were concluded in September 2017 by Greenland with Iceland and the Faroe Islands in the fields of culture and the economy. The entry of a Chinese business in the capital of Greenland Minerals and Energy, which is carrying out exploratory drilling in Kvanefjeld (rare metal and uranium deposits), shows China’s interest in exploiting the island’s mining reserves. Two other Asian countries (Singapore, which hosted an Arctic Circle, and South Korea) are also very interested in the potential opening of the Northeast Passage. Cooperation with the European Union remains principally focused on agreements in the fields of education and fisheries, beyond the ban on exporting products from commercial seal hunting. Greenland did not want to make a commitment under the Paris Climate Agreement.

Under the Self-Government Act of 2009, Denmark pays subsidies to Greenland’s authorities every year (approximately €500 million). The European Union also pays over €30 million every year to Greenland’s authorities under the education support programme 2007-2020. This is aimed at developing diversified and high-quality vocational training and increase the population’s level of education and prevent dropping out and low levels of enrolment which are very widespread in Greenland.

The mining sector is under developed despite its great potential. Greenland is thought to have the world’s fifth-largest uranium reserves and the third-largest reserves of rare metals, but structural obstacles such as the lack of road network, only one international airport and extreme climate, have dampened foreign companies’ interest in the region.

Greenland has several projects in the pipeline for its economic development including expanding Nuuk and Ilulissat airports in 2019, and building an airport at Tasiilaq in 2020. Greenland’s third-largest town is currently only reachable by boat or helicopter from Kulusuk. These projects are part of the new strategy to develop tourism to Greenland with the goal of doubling the annual tourist numbers by 2040.

Updated: November 2019