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Spain – Visit by Jean-Yves Le Drian (Madrid, 9 July 2021)

Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, will visit Madrid on July 9 to meet with his Spanish counterpart, Arancha González Laya. The two ministers will discuss the follow-up to the bilateral commitments made at the 26th Franco-Spanish Summit on March 15, 2021, notably the (…)

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France and Spain

Political relations

France and Spain enjoy an extremely close relationship of confidence, driven by law enforcement and judicial cooperation which has helped to weaken ETA over the long term, and by concrete cooperation projects in interconnections (energy and transport), a field that is crucial for both countries. Our cooperation is also based on the desire for greater cooperation on the future of the European Union, given our closely converging views on European issues.

More than 370 agreements, treaties and bilateral conventions have been signed by our two countries, particularly since the signing of the Treaty of the Pyrenees by Louis XIV of France and Philip IV of Spain on 7 November 1659 on Pheasant Island, on the French-Spanish border. This makes Spain one of the countries with which France has signed the greatest number of bilateral agreements.

French presence

French Consulates General: Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao
French community: almost 84,000 on the French Nationals Abroad register (estimated unregistered number: around 60,000)
Spanish community in France: 190,000 people

Visits

The 25th France-Spain Summit was held in Malaga on 20 February 2017.
On 26 July 2018, on the eve of a new summit dedicated to energy interconnections in south-west Europe held in Lisbon, the President of the French Republic made a trip to Madrid to meet with the President of the Government of Spain, Mr Pedro Sanchez.

Then Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and Mr Pedro Sanchez presided over the ceremony to transfer to the Spanish authorities sealed judicial proceedings instituted in France against terrorist organization ETA.

The King of Spain travelled to Paris on 5 October 2018 for the exhibition dedicated to Joan Miro at the Grand Palais, which he visited with the President of the French Republic.

Mr Edouard Philippe travelled to COP25, which was held in Madrid, and had a meeting with Mr Pedro Sanchez on 2 December 2019.

The King of Spain visited Paris on 11 March 2020 to take part in the commemorations for France’s first National Day for Victims of Terrorism, presided over by the President of the Republic. Since 2004 and the Atocha attacks in Madrid (the most deadly in Europe since 1988), March 11 has become a European day to commemorate victims of terrorism.

Spain’s Foreign Minister, Ms Arancha Gonzalez, was received by Mr Jean-Yves Le Drian in Paris on 9 July 2020.

The President of the Spanish Government, Mr Pedro Sanchez, met with the President of the French Republic on 15 July 2020 in Paris, on the eve of the European Council meeting from 17-21 July.

The first Spanish Vice-President, Ms Carmen Calvo, met with the Prime Minister in Paris on 24 August 2020.

The Minister of State for European Affairs, Mr Clément Beaune, travelled to Madrid on 30 December 2020.

Ambassadors

  • Ambassador of France to Spain: Jean-Michel Casa
  • Ambassador of Spain to France: José Manuel Albares Bueno

Economic relations

France is Spain’s leading economic partner. Spain is our second-largest customer and fifth-largest supplier (€74 billion in trade and a trade surplus of €200 million in 2019) and is one of our 47 priority countries for external trade. France is the fourth-largest investor in Spain (behind the Netherlands, Luxembourg and the United Kingdom and ahead of Germany), with more than 2,000 subsidiaries employing over 300,000 people. Spanish companies are working in more than 1,300 sites in France and employ more than 55,000 people.

Cultural, scientific and technical cooperation

French-Spanish cooperation can be seen daily through extensive educational, linguistic and cultural exchanges. A branch of the Centre Pompidou was inaugurated in Malaga on 28 March 2015. The French cultural cooperation and action network is dense in Spain, mainly formed by Institut Français branches or centres (Barcelona, Bilbao, Madrid, Zaragoza, Seville and Valencia) and 21 Alliance Française branches.

The French school network in Spain is the largest in Europe (22 schools) and third-largest globally, behind Lebanon and Morocco. Although French is the second most-popular foreign language in Spain (1.4 million students), it is still vulnerable: learning a second foreign language is not compulsory in all of Spain’s autonomous communities. In France, more than 3.25 million secondary school students study Spanish. Spain has the world’s biggest network of schools that have been endorsed by LabelFrancEducation (87), which recognizes the best bilingual schools. The “Bachibac” programme, which allows students to obtain the French Baccalauréat and the Spanish Bachillerato simultaneously, is offered in 114 schools in Spain. France is the third most popular host country among Spanish students in mobility programmes (around 6,000). An agreement on university networks was signed in February 2017. This mobility enhances the dynamic academic cooperation evidenced by more than 220 dual degree programmes and 17 European university alliances that include French and Spanish partners.

Scientific and technical cooperation is based on cooperation agreements between the major French research and development institutions such as the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), the French Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM), the National Institute for Agronomic Research (INRA) and the French Research Institute for the Exploitation of the Sea (IFREMER) and their Spanish counterparts. In the field of humanities and social sciences, the Casa de Velázquez, which is both a research centre and a hub for artistic creation focusing on the Mediterranean and Latin American spaces, is a member of the network of French schools abroad.

Other cooperation

Police cooperation, and particularly counter-terrorism, which was historically centred on the fight against ETA, and is now largely focused on the fight against Islamist terrorism and against narcotics trafficking, continues to produce very good results. With a view to collective memory and history, on 1 October 2018, France transferred sealed ETA-related judicial proceedings to the Spanish authorities, in the presence of the French Prime Minister, Mr Edouard Philippe, and the President of the Spanish Government, Mr Pedro Sanchez.

In cross-border cooperation, interconnections are a key political and economic issue for Spain and France. These include a rail infrastructure (Perpignan-Barcelona high-speed line) and electrical interconnections (a cable between Baixas and Santa Llogaia, doubling electricity capacity, was inaugurated on 20 February 2015; and a project for a submarine cable in the Bay of Biscay received €578 million in European funding in January 2018).

Updated: January 2021