France and Luxembourg

Political relations and latest visits

Luxembourg, which widely shares its culture, its history and its language with the Germanic world, is also very close to France. There is regular contact at ministerial, prime ministerial and Head of State levels.

In October 2000, Grand Duke Henri and his wife made an official visit to France. This was their first visit abroad following their accession to the throne. Mr Bettel, who had just been sworn in as Prime Minister, visited France on 16 December 2013, as his first foreign visit. He met again with the French President in Paris on 23 August 2016. The latter made an official visit to Luxembourg on 6 March 2015. The two Prime Ministers, Mr Valls and Mr Bettel, met on 11 April 2016. The Foreign Ministers, Mr Jean Asselborn and Mr Jean-Marc Ayrault, met in April 2016 and on 7 March 2017. They also took part, at Mr Jean Asselborn’s invitation and alongside their German counterpart Mr Sigmar Gabriel, in a public debate on the future of Europe at the Pierre Werner European Cultural Institute in Luxembourg on 3 April 2017. Xavier Bettel and Édouard Philippe held a meeting in Paris on 20 July 2017, and President Macron visited Luxembourg on 29 August 2017. The French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Mr Jean-Yves Le Drian, received his counterpart Mr Jean Asselborn in Paris on 13 October 2017.

Economic relations

Luxembourg is a strategic trading partner for France given its geographical proximity and the strength of its economy. Our bilateral trading relationship represented a surplus for France of €521 million in 2016. France is Luxembourg’s second-largest customer and third-largest supplier (our market share does, however, rest smaller than Germany’s). Approximately 870 French companies have subsidiaries in Luxembourg, primarily in the banking and insurance sectors. Moreover, some 90,000 French people, mostly living in Lorraine, travel to Luxembourg daily to work.

Cultural, scientific and technical cooperation

Our cultural ties are governed by an agreement dating back to 1954. There are numerous cultural institutions, some founded or led by French figures (Pierre Werner Cultural Institute, Luxembourg Museum of Modern Art (MUDAM), Philharmonie). The European (French-German-Luxembourgish) Pierre Werner Cultural Institute, inaugurated on 13 October 2003, dedicates most of its research and reflection activities to European themes.

Action in support of Luxembourgish (close to German) as a language promoting integration and social cohesion is a political priority, and it has become the main teaching language in primary schools. Whereas German starts to be taught in the first year of primary school, French is only taught from second year. The December 2013 coalition agreement includes provisions fostering the teaching of French (parallel literacy teaching in French and encouragement of preparatory classes for access of Luxembourgish students to French grandes écoles). A partnership agreement on teacher training was signed between Luxembourg’s Ministry of Education and the Lorraine School of Teaching and Education (ESPE) was concluded in May 2015. A French section has been put in place in a State school in Differdange, based on the European schools model. On 16 July 2012, a convention was concluded between our respective national education and vocational training ministries creating a preparatory class for grandes écoles – an economics course – in a Luxembourgish secondary school, Echternach high school. Lastly, Luxembourg has made a major contribution to the building of the new Vauban school (opened in September 2017 for the middle school and February 2018 for the high school).

The University of Luxembourg and the University of Lorraine cooperate on the basis of a number of agreements, including in the framework of the Great Region University (fields of energy efficiency, IT security, materials physics, systems biology and European law). An agreement also exists between the French National Research Agency and the Luxembourg National Research Fund to better network French and Luxembourgish researchers, particularly in fields of research that are shared priorities.

Other cooperation

Our cross-border cooperation, which plays a major role in relations between France and Luxembourg, draws on the Franco-Luxembourgish Intergovernmental Commission (IGC) that was created in 2011 and involves all stakeholders in cross-border cooperation, including ministers, the prefect and local elected officials. The IGC’s fifth meeting took place in Luxembourg on 21 November 2016 and was chaired by the French Minister of State for European Affairs, Mr Harlem Désir, and the Luxembourgish Minister for Family, Integration and the Great Region, Ms Corinne Cahen. The next meeting is set to take place in Paris in 2018.

The possibility of sharing the income tax collected by Luxembourg on our border workers, raised during the recent IGC meeting by Mr Harlem Désir, is a very sensitive topic and gives rise to firm opposition from the Luxembourg authorities. Following numerous discussions on the topic, Luxembourg has, however, agreed to move forward on co-funding infrastructure projects improving transport for border residents.

Given the proximity of the Cattenom nuclear power plant to Luxembourg, our cooperation on nuclear safety and security is intense and carried out in the framework of the joint commission on nuclear security created in 1994 and the involvement of experts from Luxembourg and Germany in the security checks carried out in the plant. The desire to obtain the closure of the plant has a consensus in Luxembourg, and the coalition agreement states that “Luxembourg will continue demarches with the French and Belgian authorities in order to achieve the closure of the Cattenom and Tihange plants”.

In the security field, a bilateral agreement between France and Luxembourg on police and customs cooperation was signed in Luxembourg on 25 October 2001, enabling cross-border pursuit and establishing a joint police and customs centre in Luxembourg that later merged with the Belgian-German-Luxembourgish police cooperation centre to create an original quadrilateral body. A cooperation convention was signed between the two countries in Luxembourg on 26 January 2016 on joint controls at the Dudelange-Zoufftgen Motorway border post.

Updated: 19 October 2017