France and Ireland


Political relations

Political relations with Ireland are excellent and marked by numerous bilateral visits. France and Ireland have a strong partnership, particularly with regard to European affairs, and French and Irish views are shared on many international and European issues. In 2019, the Irish authorities published “Ireland’s Strategy for France 2019–2025”. In many areas, French-Irish cooperation (sustainable growth, digital technology, higher education, inter-administrative dialogue, etc.) is now part of the France-Ireland Joint Plan of Action signed on 26 August 2021.

The Irish authorities are currently expanding their diplomatic and consular network in France. They have increased staff numbers at their Embassy in Paris and created new Honorary Consuls in Toulouse and Roscoff. The new Irish General Consulate in Lyon was inaugurated on 17 March 2023.

French presence in Ireland and Irish presence in France

  • Website of the French Embassy in Ireland:
  • Consulates: consular section in Dublin, consular offices in Cork, Galway, Limerick, specialist office for maritime affairs in Dunmore East (honorary consuls).
  • French community in Ireland: 11,400 registered (on 15 June 2022); total 30,000 (estimate by Embassy)
  • Irish community in France: 15,000 (estimated)


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.
To date, the only state visit to Ireland by a President of the French Republic has been 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 within a European context, during the French presidencies of the Council of the European Union: François Mitterrand in 1984, Jacques Chirac in 2000 and Nicolas Sarkozy in 2008.
A presidential visit to Dublin was held on 26 August 2021, which included the French Foreign Minister, the Minister of State for European Affairs and the Minister of the Economy and Finance. During this visit, the France-Ireland Joint Plan of Action 2021-2025 was signed.

Since the Irish Presidency of the European Union (2013), the frequency and level of bilateral visits has increased substantially and remained at a high level:

  • 16 October 2018: meeting between the French Minister for European Affairs and Simon Coveney, Tánaiste (Deputy Prime Minister) and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, on the sidelines of the Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels;
  • 18/19 February 2019: visit to Ireland by Jean-Yves Le Drian, French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs. Meetings with President Higgins, Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney, and the Ministers for Transport and Agriculture;
  • 2 April 2019: visit to Paris by the Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister) and meeting with the President of the French Republic;
  • 15 May 2019: visit to Paris by the Taoiseach as part of the Christchurch Call to Action;
  • 18-19 July 2019: visit to Ireland by the French Minister of State for European Affairs, at the invitation of her counterpart, Helen McEntee;
  • 20-21 May 2021: visit to Ireland by the French Foreign Minister and the Minister of State for European Affairs. Meetings with Michael D. Higgins, President of Ireland, Simon Coveney, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Defence, and Thomas Byrne, Minister of State for European Affairs;
  • 25-26 November 2021: visit to Ireland by the Minister Delegate for Foreign Trade and Economic Attractiveness. Meeting with Leo Varadkar, Tánaiste and Minister for Trade, and participation with Taoiseach Micheál Martin in the “European Business Awards” ceremony;
  • 27-28 October 2022: visit to Dublin by the Minister of State for Europe, Laurence Boone, as part of celebrations to mark Ireland’s 50th anniversary as an EEC member, and meeting with her counterpart, Thomas Byrne;
  • 23-25 November 2022: visit to Paris by Taoiseach Micheál Martin. Meeting with the President of the French Republic and participation with the Ecology Minister in the signing ceremony of the Celtic Interconnector contracts;
  • 15 February 2023: visit to Paris by Peter Burke, Minister of State for European Affairs, at the invitation of the Minister of State for Europe.

Economic relations

In 2022, trade between France and Ireland stood at €16 billion (up 25%), a level equivalent to France’s trade with India and Japan. Our exports were up 45%, while our imports had increased 14%. Our trade deficit with Ireland was down 24% to €2.9 billion. France mainly exports commodity chemicals, aviation and aerospace equipment and food products. Almost half of Irish exports to France is comprised of pharmaceutical products, many of which are manufactured using chemical products imported from France.

France is Ireland’s 9th largest market for foreign investment and Ireland is France’s 15th largest. In 2021, Irish investors held assets of nearly €4.6 billion in France (up €738 million) according to the Banque de France, across 300 businesses with 20,000 employees. France has invested €22.2 billion in Ireland (down €115 million), via 350 French companies employing 13,000 people.

A number of French companies are based in the International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) in Dublin: BNP Paribas, Société Générale, Caceis (Crédit Agricole subsidiary), and Airbus Financial Services. As Dublin has become a major hub for insurance companies, major French players are 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 manufactures the trams for Dublin’s Luas light rail system.

Brexit has also created new opportunities for sea links between the two countries in order to bypass the United Kingdom. Since 1 January 2021, the number of direct ro-ro sea links between Ireland and France has quadrupled, particularly via the creation of 7 daily crossings between Dunkirk and Rosslare.

On 25 November 2022, the Celtic Interconnector contracts were signed for a 575 kilometre-long connection linking Brittany to Cork by 2026. In 2019, the EU, which declared this a project of common interest, allocated a subsidy of €530 million to the project, financing almost half of its costs. This will be the first cable linking the Irish grid to the continent.

Cultural, scientific and technical cooperation

Ireland is showing a marked interest in our country and language, with French being the most widely-studied foreign language in Ireland, taught in 680 of Ireland’s 720 secondary schools. 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 teachers. Since October 2021, there has been an Irish Civil Service French Language Network, which has 1,200 members.

This interest was demonstrated by the success of the first Journée de la Francophonie (20 March 2015) with Irish universities, and the “Irish Month of La Francophonie” which has been held annually since 2016.

The Alliance Française in Dublin is the third-largest in Europe in terms of student numbers, after Paris and Brussels. There are also four other branches in Ireland: Cork, Limerick, Waterford/Wexford and Kilkenny.

Ireland obtained observer status within the International Organisation of La Francophonie (OIF) during the Yerevan Summit in October 2018.

Linguistic and cultural cooperation is led by two vibrant institutions: the Irish College in Paris (also a cultural centre) and the Lycée Français d’Irlande (LFI), which, together with St. Kilian’s German/Irish School, offers a true “Eurocampus”. The French Embassy in Dublin also plays a key role in this cooperation. The most recent example was its involvement in 2022 Culture Night on 23 September: over 2,000 spectators attended an interactive digital art installation at the Embassy.

There is also vibrant academic cooperation between our countries. France ranks as the top host country for Irish students in the Erasmus programme, while Ireland is the fourth most popular destination for French Erasmus students.
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+).

Updated: March 2023