France and Portugal

Political relations

Our bilateral relations with Portugal are excellent in all areas, and our bilateral dialogue has strengthened considerably in recent years. Few countries are as culturally close as France and Portugal, a country that often supports our diplomatic initiatives. The meeting between President Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister António Costa in Paris this confirmed strongly converging views on the future of the EU, and in particular on the deepening of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU).

For more information, watch the joint declaration by President Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister António Costa (28 July 2017)


Our two Prime Ministers met in Paris on 2016 April, the President of the French Republic met with President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, accompanied by Prime Minister António Costa, in Paris on 10 June – the National Day of Portugal. This visit was a first: no Portuguese President had ever before celebrated the National Day abroad. On 19 July that year, President François Hollande made a bilateral visit to Lisbon. On 25 July, the Minister of Culture, Ms Vallaud-Belkacem, signed a declaration of intent with her Portuguese counterpart that marked a new stage in the promotion of each partner’s language in our respective education systems. The Minister of State for the Budget visited Lisbon on 25 August 2017 to sign an addendum to the French-Portuguese taxation agreement.

At the funeral of former President Soares on 10 January 2017, France was the only EU Member State besides Spain to be represented at a high level, by Lionel Jospin, Harlem Désir and Christine Pires-Beaune, President of the France-Portugal Group of Friends at the National Assembly. On 28 March, the Minister of National Education, Higher Education and Research signed an education and language cooperation agreement with her Portuguese counterpart.

For more information, visit

Economic relations

Economic relations between France and Portugal reflect and maintain our excellent bilateral relationship: as one of Portugal’s leading trade partners, France was the third-largest supplier and second-largest customer in 2016. Our trade stands at almost €10 billion. Although traditionally representing a surplus for France, the trade balance swung towards Portugal in 2010, and we have had a trade deficit with the country for several years (approximately €1 billion in 2016).

On Tuesday, 7 March 2017, the 5th French-Portuguese Economic Conference was held and the French Minister of the Economy and Finance and the Portuguese Economy Minister participated along with the Portuguese Prime Minister. This Conference under the theme “Portugal, the brand” highlighted the interconnection and the importance of bilateral exchanges between France and Portugal. Despite Portugal’s recent economic difficulties, the French presence in the country continues to grow. French companies in Portugal are ranked second behind Spain in terms of the number of companies present (582), employees (61,598) and turnover (€14.274 billion). 12% of foreign companies in Portugal are French. The Portuguese Minister of the Economy has praised French performance in the sectors of business, transport and storage as well as information and communication. France is therefore the number one foreign country generating added value in Portugal.

Cultural, scientific and technical cooperation

The Francophilia and Francophonie of the Portuguese elite are an asset, although our cultural and educational presence is now challenged by the increasing influence of the English-speaking model. Moreover, the fiscal retrenchment plan implemented in Portugal has had serious consequences for the cultural and artistic sector.

Our action draws on a network made up of the Institut Français du Portugal and 12 Alliances Française branches, the Lycée Français Charles Lepierre of Lisbon, a prestigious secondary school in Portugal, and the Collège Marius Latour de Porto.

Our work focuses on four main areas:

Scientific and research cooperation

Our French cooperation mainly targets life and health sciences; nanoscience and nanotechnology; and oceanography and ocean sciences. It is mostly structured around the Hubert Curien Partnership “Pessoa” created in 1991, which implements high-quality scientific partnerships enabling international researcher mobility.

Education and language cooperation

French is not widely taught in many primary schools because of the growing popularity of English and is chosen as a second foreign language by 80% of students (220,000). However this figure has dropped to 12,000 students (2016 figures) in secondary schools because learning a second foreign language is not compulsory at this level. Four priority areas have been chosen for our education and language cooperation: teacher training, the development of Francophone European sections, the use of digital tools in class and teaching of French in higher education, and the development of official French certifications such as DELF (Elementary French Language Diploma) and DALF (Advanced French Language Diploma) in the network of Alliance Française branches and in schools.

Academic cooperation

Different exchange programmes are promoted through the network of French language assistants. Student mobility is strong but tending to decrease: France has gone from the third to the sixth most popular destination for Portuguese students. However, when it comes to individual mobility, France is still the top destination (2016 figures) with the number of Portuguese students remaining stable at 3,455.

Cultural and broadcasting cooperation

The Institut Francais of Portugal, created in 1937 and relocated to the Embassy premises in summer 2015, is focusing its strategy on field actions based on partnerships with Portuguese institutions, especially co-productions. These actions will ensure a strong presence at major events and host institutions (Festival d’Almada, Festival Alkantara, Fondation Serralves, Théâtre São Luiz, etc.).

The Institut Français of Portugal co-organizes the Fête de la Francophonie and the Almada International Theatre Festival. The cultural promotion initiative with the greatest ripple effect is definitely the French film festival, Festa do Cinema Françês, during which some 30 French films are screened each autumn in around 20 Portuguese cities.

For more information, visit

Other cooperation

In the area of defence, relations are governed by a bilateral agreement signed on 30 July 1999. A meeting is held every 18 months between our respective defence staffs. Our cooperation, based on regular political and military discussions, contributes to maintaining a favourable climate for our defence interests (access to the vast air/sea area under Portuguese control), to ensuring our proposals are taken into account, notably within the security and defence organizations and bodies to which we both belong (EU, NATO, 5+5 dialogue, etc.), and to maintaining Portugal’s support in African theatres of operations. It should be noted that our respective navies are cooperating in the area of maritime surveillance. Officer exchanges are also conducted in the three army corps (working towards a military Erasmus).

In the area of internal security, cooperation is extensive and seeks to combat drug trafficking, organized crime, document fraud and illegal immigration. Multilateral cooperation in the Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre – Narcotics in Lisbon is producing very encouraging results. A civil security agreement was signed in April 2015, and a second in the area of internal security is under discussion. The Central Office for Combating Computer Crime has begun training Portuguese law enforcement officers specialized in dealing with cybercrime.

Updated: 26.09.17