France and Sweden

Political relations and major visits

Our partnership is particularly close within the European Union in the following fields: climate change, environmental standards and technologies, social Europe and migration. Contacts between French and Swedish members of parliament are frequent (visit to France by a Swedish friendship group delegation in May 2015) and demonstrate the interest aroused by the Swedish model on themes as wide-ranging as the civil service, new energy sources and social issues.

The King of Sweden made a State visit to France (Paris and Toulouse) on 2-4 December 2014. The King was accompanied by his energy, business and employment Ministers.

The Swedish Prime Minister and Interior Minister took part in the march in Paris on 11 January 2015 after the Charlie Hebdo attacks.

Mr Harlem Désir visited Stockholm in February 2015, where he met with the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ms Margot Wallström. The latter also met the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, Mr Laurent Fabius, in Paris on 30 April 2015.

The French Prime Minister, accompanied by the Minister of State for European Affairs, visited Stockholm on 17-18 September 2015, where he met his counterpart, Mr Stefan Löfven. A joint communiqué was adopted on that occasion. Mr Löfven had previously visited Paris on 28 May 2015, meeting with the President of the Republic and the Prime Minister.

Economic relations

Bilateral trade has been somewhat unbalanced over the last decade, with an average volume of trade of €10 billion. The trade deficit totalled €657 million in 2014. In 2014, Sweden was our 16th-largest customer and 18th-largest supplier. For our part, France is Sweden’s 8th-largest customer and 9th-largest supplier.

The stock of French foreign direct investment (FDI) in Sweden totalled €3.3 billion in 2013, primarily in the agrifood, equipment and electrical goods sectors. In total, the 408 French companies present in Sweden in 2013 employed 42,460 staff. The stock of Swedish FDI in France totalled €5.2 billion in 2013, particularly in the automobile industry (Renault Trucks, Scania and Autoliv). Swedish companies employ some 95,000 people in France (of which 17,000 for Securitas).

Cultural, scientific and technical cooperation

Website of the Institut français (French Institute) in Sweden:
France is the 6th-largest destination for Swedish students, behind the English-speaking countries, Germany and Spain, but is the leading destination for Swedish students under the Erasmus scheme.

Scientific cooperation between France and Sweden involves a considerable volume of exchanges, with numerous ties between laboratories; bilateral research programmes between the universities, agencies and bodies of the two countries, promoted and coordinated in particular by the French-Swedish Research Association (AFSR); and successful calls for project bids by our two countries within the European Research Area (ERA), in liaison with all operators working in this area. A Gustaf Dalén Hubert Curien Partnership (PHC) was created in 2011 with the Swedish strategic research foundation.

The European Spallation Source (ESS) is a major research infrastructure project dedicated to exploration and study of matter, and is currently under construction in Lund. 17 countries are working together to make the ESS work, with ESS AB being a company belonging to the host countries, Sweden and Denmark. It works in partnership with almost 60 companies and research bodies. France is the first country to have announced the signature of a letter of intent of commitment. It has committed to paying 8% of total construction costs. In this very special framework, seven bilateral scientific agreements were signed in 2010 and 2011 (with the Atomic and Alternative Energy Commission – CEA – and French National Centre for Scientific Research – CNRS), for an amount totalling almost €70 million. Above and beyond its major scientific importance, the ESS project is thus a structuring one for the future of scientific cooperation between France and Sweden.

As regards culture, French artists are regularly exhibited in Swedish galleries and exhibition centres. Events such as European Heritage Days and the music festival “Make Musik STHLM”, organized jointly by the Institut français (French Institute) in Sweden and the city of Stockholm, are very successful.

Every year, Sweden invites a great number of French and French-language writers, giving rise to the translation of more than 750 literary works in less than a decade. The Göteborg Book Fair is the 11ᵗʰ most trend-setting fair for French publishers. The invitation of the Nordic countries to the Paris Book Fair in 2011 led to intensified professional relations between Swedish and French publishers. Patrick Modiano and Jean Tirole winning Nobel Prizes in 2014 helped give our cultural and scientific policy greater visibility.

Other cooperation

Military and police cooperation

Bilateral relations with Sweden are good, although military cooperation is modest as the Swedish focus on exchanges with their Nordic neighbours. This cooperation is primarily operational and has, during the Libyan crisis for example, enabled Swedish Gripen fighters to take part in NATO air operations. This cooperation is more developed within the European Union, and Sweden has taken part in all the EU’s military operations. The Swedish armed forces have thus cooperated effectively with French forces in Africa on several occasions, particularly during the operations Artémis, UNIFIL Maritime Task Force, and EUFOR Chad. As a contributor to Operation Atalanta to combat piracy in the Gulf of Aden, Sweden commanded the Force HQ in 2010 and 2013.

Bilateral cooperation primarily concerns special forces, with joint exercises and operational exchanges. This cooperation is also very good in the area of military intelligence. The War College has had a Swedish trainee every year for many years. A Swedish joint liaison officer is posted to the Operations Planning and Command & Control Centre (CPCO).

As a LOI country (the six main European arms producing countries: France, Sweden, Germany, Spain, United Kingdom and Italy), Sweden is part of a number of joint arms projects, such as the Dassault nEUROn experimental unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) and ESSOR Software Defined Radio.

Updated: 15 June 2016