France and Netherlands


Political relations

Our bilateral relationship has strengthened at all levels, fostering increasing joint initiatives. The Netherlands is today a key partner for France, particularly concerning European issues such as the promotion of values (rule of law, gender equality, freedom of expression) within the European Union and beyond, as well as the Capital Markets Union and Banking Union. The two countries have evolved and share increasingly convergent views. As the Netherlands has moved closer to the French line (such as on strategic autonomy, while remaining favourable to an open European trade policy and keen to strengthen protection of companies), it has become more receptive to the evolution of our positions on fiscal rigour.
The strengthening of our political partnership was structured by the adoption by the French President and Dutch Prime Minister of a joint statement on 31 August 2021. The state visit by the French President on 11 and 12 April 2023 further strengthened the partnership and the many prospects for cooperation. During his visit, the President gave a speech on the pillars of our European sovereignty and the economic security challenges faced by the EU. This state visit also included the holding of the second session of the intergovernmental seminar (following the first in Paris in March 2022) on the central themes of our partnership (defence, economy, innovation, energy and research).

French presence

  • French community: 23,251 registered (2022)
  • Dutch community in France: 60,000 people.
  • Consulate General: Amsterdam (honorary consuls: Middelburg, ’s-Hertogenbosch, Groningen, Maastricht, Nijmegen, Rotterdam, Utrecht, Aruba, Curaçao and Saint-Mart)


Bilateral contact between France and the Netherlands is frequent with regular bilateral consultations and interministerial contacts. Contacts at the highest level take place regularly. Our relationship recently saw the French President make a state visit to the Netherlands on 11 and 12 April 2023, following that of the Dutch royal couple to Paris in March 2016. These mutual visits have helped highlight and strengthen our human, political, economic and cultural ties, as well as our defence ambitions.

As mentioned above, a second intergovernmental seminar was held with the French President, the Dutch Prime Minister, and several ministers from the two countries. We strengthened our bilateral partnership through a joint statement further affirming our shared goals. A number of agreements were signed on this occasion, including a Pact for innovation and sustainable growth between the countries’ business federations (MEDEF and VNO).

There are also frequent ministerial meetings: The two Foreign Ministers meet regularly in bilateral and multilateral settings, and Wopke Hoekstra, Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs, met the French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs and Minister of State for Europe in Paris in July 2022. Meetings in broader formats are also held regularly, alternately in the two countries, to discuss European themes and foster open and confident dialogue on the future of the EU.


  • Ambassador of France to the Kingdom of the Netherlands: François Alabrune (since September 2022).
  • Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to France: Jan Theophile Versteeg (since September 2022).

Economic relations

France and the Netherlands are major economic partners, although the relationship is skewed towards the latter. Trade totalled €63 billion in mid-2022. The Netherlands remain our eighth-largest trading partner and seventh-largest customer and supplier. Conversely, France is the third-largest customer and sixth-largest supplier of the Netherlands. We have a structural goods trade deficit which, having worsened considerably from 2016, improved slightly in 2022. It is our seventh-largest goods trade deficit. Holding €106 billion in foreign direct investment stock in 2022, the Netherlands were France’s third-largest investor. The Dutch presence in France includes more than 1,000 companies with a total turnover of €48 billion, employing more than 150,000 people. It reflects the strengths of the Dutch economy: agrifood (Heineken, Wessanen, Hendrix Genetics), retail (Action, Hema, Zeeman), chemicals and pharmaceuticals (SHV, Akzo-Nobel), electronics (Philips), petroleum products (Shell), logistics and distribution (TNT, etc.) and financial services (ING, ABN AMRO). In 2021, the Netherlands brought 103 investment projects to France, generating 1,600 jobs. A third were in the sport and recreation sectors. The Netherlands is also the leading investor country in France’s agrifood industry.

Mutual investment also illustrates the attractiveness of the Netherlands and our close ties. In 2022, the Netherlands ranked second in stock for French foreign direct investment, at €191 billion), and France has a significant presence in the country. Almost 1,500 French subsidiaries employ around 137,000 people and produce turnover of €53 billion, including in transport (Air France-KLM, Transdev, Renault, Peugeot, etc.), energy (Engie, Total, Air Liquide, Schneider Electric), waste processing and the circular economy (Suez, Veolia), and agrifood (Danone). Air France-KLM is symbolic of our bilateral economic cooperation.

Cultural, scientific and technical cooperation

Bilateral scientific cooperation mainly takes place under the European Research Area, and France is the Netherlands’ fourth-largest scientific partner. Academic cooperation is organized around the French-Dutch Network for Higher Education and Research (RFN) located, for the French side, at the University of Lille III. Most French research bodies (National Centre for Scientific Research – CNRS, National Institute for Agricultural Research – INRA, National Institute for Ocean Science– IFREMER, National Institute of Health and Medical Research – INSERM, Agency for Research Promotion – ANVAR) have signed agreements with their Dutch counterparts. Our activities draw on the French-Dutch working group on science and technology, the RFN and the Van Gogh Hubert Curien Programme launched in 1997 to promote researcher mobility. The French state visit also sparked further scientific cooperation (INRIA and Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica – CWI, Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission – CEA and TNO, IFREMER and Wageningen University & Research, TU Delft France Initiative).

The Descartes-Huygens Prize has been awarded yearly since 1995 to a Dutch and a French researcher, and the Descartes excellence scholarship programme, set up in 2011, awards nine or ten scholarships of an average€9,000 per year to finance studies of students at master’s and doctorate level.

French remains the third foreign language in the Netherlands and is still widely taught (18% of students in the final year of secondary education and 43% of pre-university science students take French as a baccalaureate subject). Four universities have schools of French language and literature. A language assistant programme has been created. The large network of 33 Alliance Française branches teach French to more than 8,000 students a year.

Cultural cooperation is driven by Dutch operators (festivals, museums) promoting French productions, including in cinema, architecture and sculpture. This cooperation is very often maintained directly between large French and Dutch institutions including the Rijksmuseum, Louvre, Van Gogh Museum, Concertgebouw, Opéra and more.

The 20th Erasmus-Descartes Conference, organized by the Embassy of the Netherlands in France in liaison with the Embassy of France in the Netherlands, was held in Paris in November 2022 and focused on sustainable aviation. This Conference is a key event in French-Dutch cooperation in the scientific, academic and economic fields and also seeks to offer a platform for dialogue between the two countries’ civil societies.

Other cooperation

Cross-border cooperation on Saint-Martin/Sint Maarten. Saint-Martin/Sint Maarten, an island in the Lesser Antilles, has been a unique case of “European” territorial cooperation since the Concordia Treaty in 1648.

The treaty recognizes shared sovereignty and territorial delimitation while maintaining considerable unity. It enshrines the sharing of natural resources, the principle of mutual assistance in the event of armed conflict, and above all free movement of goods and persons. An agreement on the demarcation of the maritime border was negotiated in March 2015 and signed in April 2016. Following Hurricane Irma, close cooperation was initiated between France and the Netherlands to foster reconstruction on the island. In August 2020, this led to an agreement on cooperation in the event of hurricanes on Saint-Martin/Sint Maarten between our armed forces on land, at sea and in the air. An agreement on the shared border was signed on 27 May 2023. This agreement, which demarcates the border, ends France’s longest-standing border dispute, which had run since 1648.

A quadripartite cooperation meeting with representatives of the Dutch and French Governments, the community of Saint-Martin and the government of Sint Maarten was held in The Hague on 15 June 2023.

Updated: July 2023