France and Finland


Political relations and latest visits

Political contacts between France and Finland intensified rapidly following Finland’s accession to the European Union. Finland’s EU Presidency in the second half of 2006, and France’s Presidency in the second half of 2008, were conducive to meetings at the highest level, including an official visit to France by the President of Finland, Ms Tarja Halonen, in March 2005; a meeting between the French President, Mr Nicolas Sarkozy, with the Finnish Prime Minister, Mr Matti Vanhanen, in January 2008; and a visit to Helsinki by the French Prime Minister, Mr François Fillon, in May 2008.

The Finnish Prime Minister, Ms Kiviniemi, met with the President of the French Republic and the Prime Minister in Paris, on 13 October 2010, and her successor, Mr Jyrki Katainen, met the French President, François Hollande, on 2 October 2012.

The French Minister Delegate for European Affairs, Mr Thierry Repentin, visited Helsinki on 4 April 2013 and met with the Minister for European Affairs and Foreign Trade, Mr Alexander Stubb, and the Minister of Economic Affairs, Mr Jan Vapaavuori. The Finnish Prime Minister, Mr Jyrki Katainen, visited Paris on 10 June 2013, meeting with the French President, Mr François Hollande. Finnish Minister of Finance Ms Jutta Urpilainen met with President Hollande in Paris, on 19 June 2013. The President of Finland, Mr Sauli Niinistö, made an official visit to France and met with President Hollande on 10 July 2013 and Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault on 9 July 2013.

Mr Erkki Tuomioja, Finnish Minister of Foreign Affairs, met with his French counterpart, Mr Laurent Fabius, in Paris on 17 February 2014. That day, Mr Pekka Haavisto, Minister for International Development, was received by his French counterpart, Mr Pascal Canfin.

Minister of State for European Affairs Mr Harlem Désir made a visit to Helsinki on 28 November 2014, where he met with Foreign Minister Mr Tuomioja and Minister for European Affairs and Foreign Trade Ms Toivakka. The latter had visited Paris on 22 October that year, and was received by Mr Désir.

The Prime Minister of Finland, Mr Alexander Stubb, was received in Paris by the French President and Prime Minister on 2 October 2014.

Economic relations

France’s trade deficit with Finland was reduced substantially in 2014 (€461 million as against €646 million in 2013). The fall in our imports (-13% year-on-year) was greater than the fall in our exports (-5.7%). Trade in agrifood products, transport equipment and chemicals, perfumes and cosmetics produces a surplus for France, but we continue to have a deficit in pulpwood, industrial and agricultural machinery, and products for the metallurgy industry.

Cultural, scientific and technical cooperation

France and Finland are now very close as regards scientific and technological partnerships, and France is Finland’s fifth-largest scientific partner. Above and beyond the EU Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development, France cooperates with Finnish research teams under COST Actions (European cooperation in science and technology) and European and international research bodies. We cooperate particularly closely in biotechnologies, nanotechnologies, ICT and robotics, and forests, energy and sustainable development.

Academic cooperation is growing through the signing of agreements for exchanges of students and PhD candidates, as well as of teaching staff, between French and Finnish universities. 1,200 French Erasmus students head for Finland every year, making them the joint largest contingent alongside German students.

In the cultural sector, the “100% Finland” cultural season in France in spring 2008 was extremely successful, with more than 500 artists travelling to France for 270 events organized across the country. France’s contemporary culture is very sought-after and present in the Finnish summer’s many festivals, in the areas of visual arts, circus and theatre, and contemporary and urban music. France was the guest of honour at the October 2010 Helsinki Book Fair, as part of a series of events organized during the “French Autumn”, including films, exhibitions, concerts and seminars, from August to November 2008. France was also the Guest of honour at the Turku International Book Fair in October 2014.

Updated: 15 September 2016