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 Pheasant Island, on the French-Spanish border, on 7 November 1659. This makes Spain one of the countries with which France has signed the greatest number of bilateral agreements.
French Consulates General: Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao
French community: almost 84,000 on the consular register (estimated unregistered nationals: around 60,000)
Spanish community in France: between 190,000 and 230,000 people.
The Franco-Spanish Summit in Barcelona on 19 January 2023 saw the signing of a treaty of friendship and cooperation between the two countries, following the agreement in principle at the previous summit in Montauban on 15 March 2021. This Barcelona treaty has strengthened our ties of friendship and cooperation, notably a European ambition that is shared by both countries.
These close ties are also evidenced by many bilateral visits:
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), 11 March has become a European day to commemorate victims of terrorism.
Spain’s Foreign Minister, Ms Arancha González, was received by Mr Jean-Yves Le Drian in Paris on 9 July 2020.
The President of the Spanish Government, Mr Pedro Sánchez, 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 Deputy President of the Spanish Government, 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.
The Spanish development and foreign affairs state secretaries visited Paris on 12 February and 1 March 2021, respectively.
The Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Mr Jean-Yves Le Drian, visited Madrid on 9 July 2021 and was received by his Spanish counterpart, Ms Arancha González.
The Spanish Minister for Parliamentary Relations and Democratic Memory, Mr Felix Bolaños, visited Paris from 24 to 26 August 2021.
The new Spanish Minister for Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation, José Manuel Albares, spoke with his French counterpart in Paris on 4 October 2021.
The Minister Delegate for Tourism, French Nationals Abroad and Francophonie, visited Madrid on 1 and 2 December 2021.
The Minister of the Economy, Finance and the Recovery, Mr Bruno Lemaire, visited Madrid on 2 December 2021 to take part in the Franco-Spanish economic forum organized by France’s MEDEF business federation and its Spanish counterpart, CEOE.
The Prime Minister visited Madrid on 10 December 2021 to meet with the President of the Spanish Government, Mr Pedro Sánchez.
The French President received Mr Pedro Sánchez in Paris on 21 March 2022.
The Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Mr Jean-Yves Le Drian, visited Madrid on 4 April 2022.
The Spanish Minister for Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation, Mr José Manuel Albares Bueno, was received in Paris by his counterpart, Ms Catherine Colonna, on 6 June 2022.
President Macron met with Mr Pedro Sánchez and the Portuguese Prime Minister, Mr António Costa, in Brussels on 20 October 2022, and again on 9 December at the EU Med Summit in Málaga, notably to discuss energy interconnections and the H2MED project.
For the latest declarations, see the website of the French Embassy in Madrid: https://es.ambafrance.org/-Visites-sommets-declarations-
Ambassador of France to Spain: Jean-Michel Casa
Ambassador of Spain to France: Victorio Redondo Baldrich
Our trading relationship is very strong (€78.6 billion in goods and €20.4 billion in services in 2021), but France had a goods trade deficit with Spain for the second year running in 2021 (€5.6 billion). France is Spain’s leading customer, third-largest supplier and fourth-largest foreign investor (some €60 million in foreign direct investment stock and 2,900 French subsidiaries that generate 380,000 jobs). The stock of French foreign direct investment reached its summit in 2021, at €30.2 billion. Spain is France’s eighth-largest investor (1,300 subsidiaries and 56,900 jobs), behind Belgium.
French-Spanish cooperation can be seen daily through extensive educational, linguistic and cultural exchanges. A branch of the Centre Pompidou was inaugurated in Málaga 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 LabelFrancÉducation (87), which recognizes the best bilingual schools. The “BachiBac” programme, which allows students to obtain the French Baccalaureate 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 is part of dynamic academic cooperation marked by more than 3,000 inter-university agreements, 220 dual degree programmes and 16 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 part of the network of French schools abroad.
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 narcotics trafficking, continues to produce very good results. With a view to collective memory and historiography, on 1 October 2018, France transferred sealed ETA-related judicial proceedings to the Spanish authorities, in the presence of the French Prime Minister, Mr Édouard Philippe, and the President of the Spanish Government, Mr Pedro Sánchez.
In cross-border cooperation, interconnections are a key political and economic issue for Spain and France. These include 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). The announcement on 20 October 2022 of the launch of a Barcelona-Marseille green energy corridor (H2MED project) shows the constant commitment of both countries in this field.
Updated: February 2024