The relationship between France and Poland is governed by the strategic partnership agreement signed in 2008 and renewed in 2013. It was particularly intense between 2012 and 2015. The last intergovernmental consultations between the two countries were held in Paris on 15 January 2015. Bilateral dialogue is accompanied by trilateral Franco-German-Polish dialogue within the scope of the Weimar Triangle, which was launched in 1991 to facilitate German-Polish rapprochement and went on to become one of the instruments for Poland’s Euro-Atlantic integration.
The President of Poland, Mr Andrzej Duda, made an official visit to France on 28 October 2015, during which he met with the French President. The Polish Prime Minister, Ms Beata Szydło, was received by the French President on 3 February 2016 and again on 23 November 2017.
The French Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development received his counterpart, Mr Witold Waszczykowski, on 3 June 2016. He visited Poland on 13 June that year and met with the Prime Minister, Ms Beata Szydło, Mr Witold Waszczykowski, and with representatives of the majority and the opposition. The Minister and his counterpart met again during a ministerial meeting of the Visegrád Group, expanded to include France and Germany, in Prague on 27 June 2016. During the celebrations of the 25th anniversary of the Weimar Triangle, the Minister met with his German and Polish counterparts, Mr Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Mr Witold Waszczykowski, in Weimar on 28 August 2016. They opened the work of the annual conference of German ambassadors in Berlin the next day. The three ministers also met in Kyiv on 14 September 2016. The Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Mr Jean-Yves Le Drian, received Mr Witold Waszczykowski in Paris on the side-lines of an OECD ministerial meeting on 7 June 2017.
The French Minister of State for European Affairs visited Warsaw on 4 December 2015, where he met with his Polish counterparts. He visited again on 13 and 14 June 2016 for a Weimar format meeting. The Minister for European Affairs, Ms Nathalie Loiseau, visited Warsaw on 4 October 2017 for bilateral consultations.
Poland is France’s leading trading partner in Central and Eastern Europe (€17 billion of trade in 2016) and the top destination for French foreign direct investment (FDI) in the region (stock of close to €18 billion in 2015, representing more than 920 French companies employing almost 200,000 people). French exports to Poland stood at €8.2 billion in 2016, and French imports from the country amounted to €9.1 billion. France had a trade surplus with Poland until 2008, but it became a deficit in 2009 and stood at €0.9 billion in 2016.
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Cultural, educational, scientific and technical cooperation
There is very considerable scientific and academic cooperation, with 76 dual degrees in place, the integrated action programme Polonium, and institutional relations forged between French and Polish research bodies (agreements between the French National Centre for Scientific Research and the Polish Academy of Sciences, many study grants). Trilateral cooperation (with Germany) and European cooperation are favoured. The University of Warsaw is host to the French and Francophone civilization and studies centre (CCFEF), a research unit and centre for conferences and debate.
Linguistic and educational cooperation seeks to maintain French as the country’s fourth most-taught foreign language: 12.6% of pupils learn French in high schools, but only 0.8% in primary schools since the generalization of a compulsory foreign language in the first three years at school, which in 99% of cases is English. In total, around 280,000 students are learning French. 27 schools have 36 bilingual sections in which a total of 3,675 pupils are taught. The French Lycée René Goscinny school in Warsaw has 766 pupils, 25% of whom are Polish.
In July 2016, the Polish education minister, Ms Anna Zalewska, announced a major overhaul of the education system, the implementation of which is planned for the 2017-2018 school year. The reform aims to alter the organization of primary and secondary education and could have a negative impact on French bilingual sections.
In addition to the Institut Français branches in Warsaw and Krakow, there are seven Alliance Française branches in the regions (Katowice, Łódź, Lublin, Gdańsk, Szczecin, Toruń and Wrocław).
Poland has been an observer member of the International Organization of La Francophonie (OIF) since 1997.
From 2017 until 2021, the commemorations of the centenary of the First World War and the rebirth of an independent Polish State will be an opportunity for joint events in both France and Poland. An exhibition dedicated to Haller’s (Blue) army was planned at Warsaw’s Royal Castle in summer 2017 and should be held in Paris in 2018.
Active decentralized cooperation (175 twinning agreements and 350 cooperation projects identified at all levels of local government) is a precious source of influence.
- French Ambassador to Poland: Mr Pierre Lévy (since September 2016)
- Polish Ambassador to France: Mr Tomasz Młynarski (since March 2017)
- Chair of the Friendship Group at the French National Assembly: Mr Frédéric Petit (Mouvement Démocrate group)
- Chair of the Friendship Group at the French Senate: Mr Jean-Pierre Leleux (Les Républicains group))
Updated: 13 December 2017