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France and Norway

Political relations

In Norway’s recent white paper “Setting the course for Norwegian foreign and security policy”, France was mentioned as one of Norway’s strategic partners, alongside Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

France and Norway share the same values (including promoting peace, democracy, the rule of law and human rights, for example) and the same concerns in the international arena (such as on the Russia/Ukraine dispute, the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, fighting the terrorist threat, controlling migratory flows, consolidating fragile States in Sub-Saharan Africa, the climate and development assistance). They attach great importance to peacekeeping operations and strengthening the UN’s effectiveness.

Energy and the climate are central to our bilateral relations, and Norway is France’s leading supplier of gas and one of our main suppliers of oil (behind Russia). The country is very active on environmental and sustainability programmes (SE4All for energy, REDD+ for forests) and has set ambitious national targets: reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030 and carbon neutrality in 2050. Its sovereign fund is withdrawing from polluting industries. France has requested that money from this fund be allocated to finance the objectives of the Paris Agreement.

In recent years, political and strategic relations between France and Norway have gained pace.

French presence

Honorary Consulates: Ålesund, Bergen, Narvik, Stavanger, Tromso and Trondheim
French community in Norway: 5,100 people
Norwegian community in France: 7,000 people

Visits

Major recent visits include those of Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg to Paris on 27 February and 6 July 2018, during which she met with French President Emmanuel Macron. Ms Solberg attended the ceremonies to commemorate the First World War Armistice centenary on 11 November 2018 and the Paris Peace Forum. On 23 May and 15 November 2019, the French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Mr Jean-Yves Le Drian, received his Norwegian counterpart, Ms Ine Eriksen Søreide, in Paris. They also met on 20 November that year at the NATO ministerial meeting in Brussels.

Ambassadors

Mr Pierre-Mathieu Duhamel has been the French Ambassador to Norway since April 2019.
Ms Oda Helen Sletnes has been the Norwegian Ambassador to France since January 2019.

For updates from the Embassy of Norway in France:

Website of the Norwegian Embassy in France
Facebook of the Norwegian Embassy in France
Instagram of the Norwegian Embassy in France
Twitter of the of the Norwegian Embassy in France

Economic relations

Trade in goods between France and Norway grew in 2018 thanks to the 17.2% increase in French exports driven by a strong rise in deliveries, particularly aircraft manufactured by Airbus. This growth was also supported by the success of electric vehicle solutions offered by French manufacturers (€100 million in 2018, as against €58 million in 2017). Imports fell meanwhile, because of falling hydrocarbon prices.

Our relations are close, particularly in the energy sector, which remains the centrepiece of the Norwegian economy. France purchases 40% of its gas from Norway. As such, French companies are present in the Norwegian hydrocarbons sector. Total has been the leading foreign investor in Norway for almost 50 years. With 103 licences, it is the country’s second-largest producer of hydrocarbons, behind the public national company Statoil. Meanwhile, Engie is the second-largest purchaser of Norwegian gas and has 30 prospection and production licences. France is also a leading importer of Norwegian salmon. Moreover, France is fourth-most-represented in the investments of the Norwegian sovereign wealth fund (6% in volume).

More than 200 French companies operate in Norway. They are highly involved in the hydrocarbons sector (including Total and Engie) and in oil services (Technip and Nexans). French companies are also present in machines and equipment (Schneider and Elektroscandia) and in the sector of wood and construction materials (Optimera). Around 100 Norwegian companies are present in France in 2016, including Yara (industrial fertilizers), Marine Harvest (sale and processing of seafood), and Sapa (extruded aluminium), which is the largest Norwegian employer in France. In total, Norwegian companies employ around 4,500 people in France.

Cultural, scientific and technical cooperation

French is the fourth most-taught foreign language behind English, Spanish and German, with 50,000 pupils studying it. Our education provision in Norway includes the René Cassin French Lycée in Oslo (accredited by the Agency for French Education Abroad (AEFE), which has some 600 pupils, almost two thirds of whom are Norwegian), and the French Lycée in Stavanger. France also has Norwegian sections in three French lycées (in Rouen, Bayeux and Lyon), the centenary of which was celebrated by both countries in 2018. Moreover, France is the eighth-largest destination for Norwegian students (300 in 2017)

In July 2008, France signed a cooperation agreement with Norway in the field of scientific and technical research and innovation. The programme for the training of Norwegian engineers at the National Institute of Applied Sciences in Toulouse (NORGINSA), which has been in place since 1990, has been renewed through to 2020. The foundations of our cooperation include the integrated action programme “Aurora” and the French-Norwegian Foundation for Scientific and Technical Research and Industrial Development, which was created in 1983 to support short-term joint research.

In Svalbard, France and Germany share two scientific bases for research into glaciers, geology and the climate. At European level, we are collaborating in the EU Framework Research and Development Programme (FRDP). France is Norway’s fifth-largest European partner in terms of proposed projects, and third in terms of selected projects.

In the art field, the Embassy of France in Norway cooperates with many local operators, including the festivals which have a central role in Norwegian culture, such as the Bergen International Festival and Oslo’s International Ibsen Festival. Cinema also plays a key role in the work of the Embassy,

For more information, visit the website of the French Embassy in Norway

Updated: January 2020