Political relations with Ireland are excellent and marked by numerous bilateral visits. The partnership between France and Ireland is strong, particularly as regards European affairs (Common Agricultural Policy - CAP). The French and Irish share similar views on many international and EU issues.
Website of the French Embassy in Ireland: https://ie.ambafrance.org
French community in Ireland: 10,723 registered (on 31/12/2017); 30,000 total (estimate by Embassy)
Irish community in France: 15,000 (estimate)
The private visit by General de Gaulle in June 1969, during which he recalled his Irish roots on his mother’s side (McCartan clan) went down in history.
The only French state visit by a French President of the Republic to date was that of François Mitterrand in 1988, during which he made a powerful speech before Parliament in favour of the European project.
French presidential visits have often taken place in a European framework, during the French Presidencies of the Council of the European Union: François Mitterrand in 1984, Jacques Chirac in 2000 and Nicolas Sarkozy in 2008. During the Irish Presidency of the EU in 2013, the pace and level of bilateral visits increased substantially, and have remained high. Visits include:
-* 5 July 2017, 31 October 2018 and 15 March 2019: visits to Paris by Simon Coveney, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade. Meetings with Jean-Yves Le Drian and Nathalie Loiseau.
- 25 July 2017, 23 November 2017: visits to Paris by Helen McEntee, Minister of State for European Affairs. Meetings with Nathalie Loiseau.
- 24 October 2017: visit to Paris by Leo Varadkar, Taoiseach (Prime Minister). Meeting with the President of the French Republic.
- 19-20 February 2018: visit to Ireland (Dublin, County Meath and the Ireland-Northern Ireland border) by Nathalie Loiseau. Meeting and dinner with her counterpart, Helen McEntee.
- 15 May 2018: visit to Ireland by Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs. Meetings with Simon Coveney, Tánaiste (Deputy Prime Minister) and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Michael D. Higgins, President of Ireland.
- 16 October 2018: meeting of Nathalie Loiseau, Minister for European Affairs, with Simon Coveney, Tánaiste (Deputy Prime Minister) and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, on the sidelines of the Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) in Brussels.
- 18-19 February 2019: visit to Ireland by Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs. Meetings with President Higgins, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Coveney, and the Ministers for Transport and Agriculture.
- 2 April 2019: visit to Paris by the Taoiseach and meeting with the President of the French Republic.
- 15 May 2019: visit to Paris by the Taoiseach in relation to the Christchurch Call.
Further information on bilateral visits on the website of the French Embassy in Dublin
Twitter account: @stephanecrouzat
Trade in goods between France and Ireland stood at €9.8 billion in 2018, up 2.5% on 2017. According to French Customs, our exports stood at €3.2 billion, up 12.1%, while our imports fell by 1.5% to €6.6 billion. Our trade deficit with Ireland is down 11.5% on 2017, standing at €3.4 billion.
France is the ninth largest recipient of Irish investment worldwide. Irish investors hold almost €4.8 billion in assets in France (source: Banque de France) across 300 companies employing over 20,000 people. French investment in Ireland is valued at €21.5 billion, with a flow of €3.2 billion in 2015. There are approximately 350 French companies in Ireland, employing 13,000 people and making France the fourth-largest investor in Ireland according to Irish statistics, after the United States, the Netherlands, and offshore financial centres. Irish investors hold close to €5 billion in assets in France according to the Banque de France, through 200 businesses employing 18,000 people. Irish foreign direct investment (FDI) is concentrated in real estate activities (56%), financial activities and insurance (24%), and manufacturing and other sectors (20%).
France’s presence is stable. Several companies have set up in Dublin’s International Financial Services Centre (IFSC), including: BNP Paribas, Société Générale, Caceis (Crédit Agricole subsidiary), and Airbus Financial Services. Dublin has become a major hub for insurance companies, with major French players also present: AXA, CACI (Crédit Agricole subsidiary), Coface, Euler Hermes and SCOR. The agrifood sector is represented by Danone and Pernod Ricard (which acquired Irish Distillers in 1988). In the transport sector, Alstom supplies trams to the Dublin tram and light rail system (Luas).
Irish interest in our country and language is strong, and French is taught in 680 of Ireland’s 720 secondary schools. A remarkable number of people learn French in Ireland. Some 60% of Irish secondary school students choose French as their first foreign language and Ireland has 3,000 French teachers. France supports the teaching of French in Ireland through a continuous training programme for French teachers.
This interest was demonstrated by the success of the first International Francophonie Day (20 March 2015) with Irish universities, and the “Irish Francophonie Month” which has been held annually since 2016.
The Alliance Française branch in Dublin is the third-largest in Europe in terms of student numbers, behind Paris and Brussels. Four other branches are also present in Ireland in: Cork, Limerick, Waterford/Wexford and Kilkenny.
The Irish authorities obtained observer status within the International Organisation of La Francophonie (OIF) during the IOF’s Yerevan Summit in October 2018.
Linguistic and cultural cooperation is led by two vibrant institutions: the Irish College in Paris (which includes a cultural centre) and the Lycée Français d’Irlande (LFI), which, together with St. Kilian’s German-Irish School, offers a true “Eurocampus”.
Academic cooperation is also dynamic. France ranks as the top host country for Irish students in the Erasmus programme. Ireland is the fourth most popular EU destination for French students on the same programme.
Scientific cooperation is supported by the Hubert Curien Partnership “Ulysses” (and a series of high-level agreements between institutions) which is one of the most attractive in Europe (over 60 requests per year) with high-quality projects (70% of the proposals are rated A or A+).
EU Member State since 1973.
Two opt-outs: Schengen, Justice and Home Affairs (JHA).
Contribution to the European Union budget: €1.69 billion (2014). For many years, Ireland was a net recipient but is now a net contributor (+€168 million). It is paying particular attention to negotiations on the next Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF).
Emily O’Reilly has been European Ombudsman since 2013 (re-elected in December 2019); Phil Hogan, former Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, is currently European Commissioner for Trade in Ursula von der Leyen’s Commission.
Ireland is an active and respected member of European institutions. Its views are often similar to those of the European Commission. Ireland has hugely benefitted from European Union membership (economically, in terms of modernization and influence, and particularly agriculture through the CAP) and is today one of the few Member States with no anti-European parties. Even Sinn Féin (a left-wing Republican and nationalist party), which is strongly in favour of EU reform, has rejected all prospects of leaving.
Brexit is a major issue for Leo Varadkar’s Government and represents the biggest economic and strategic challenge in decades. Ireland believes itself to be the EU state hardest hit by the United Kingdom’s withdrawal.
Updated: January 2020