Bilateral cooperation

Summary of France’s relationship with the United Kingdom



French Ambassador to the UK: Mme Catherine Colonna (since September 2019).
UK Ambassador to France: Mr Ed Llewellyn (since 9 November 2016)

Political relations
Our bilateral relations are driven by regular contacts at all levels, including summits. As the only European countries that have nuclear weapons, are permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and have international ambitions with the political and military tools to match, our two countries often share similar approaches.

Defence cooperation

Cultural and scientific exchanges, which involve a large number of people, are developing through direct links between universities, museums, institutes, research centres and foundations. Our cooperation seeks to promote the French language and the teaching of it, debate, and academic cooperation in the humanities, particularly with Cambridge. There is also an ongoing policy of supporting the cultural industries and French exporters on what is a highly buoyant market in many areas, including contemporary music, contemporary art, publishing, cinema and the audiovisual sector, and video games.

The bilateral administrative arrangement on educational cooperation, signed on 9 June 2006, provides an official framework and momentum in this sector (teacher training, school partnerships and exchanges on themes of common interest). The UK remains the Western European country (excluding Belgium and Switzerland) where French is most widely studied.

Following the opening in September 2011 of the bilingual French school in London (Collège français bilingue de Londres) with 700 places, the new international Lycée Winston Churchill (north-west London), catering for over 1,000 pupils, opened in September 2015.

There are close to 14,000 French students in the UK, while about 3,000 British students are studying in France.

Further information:

Other types of cooperation

Cooperation on security and combating illegal immigration

Cooperation in combating illegal immigration is a priority of the UK authorities and of our bilateral cooperation, which is multi-faceted and implemented in the framework of a series of bilateral agreements, in particular the 1991 Sangatte Protocol and the Le Touquet Treaty of 4 February 2003. In particular, it involves the implementation of border checks in the Channel and North Sea ports and the organization of juxtaposed control stations, especially on the Channel Tunnel Fixed Link. Respective information centres have been set up in Calais and Folkestone.

The 20 August 2015 declaration by the French Interior Minister and the Home Secretary set out a road map for developing enhanced bilateral cooperation, particularly in the context of the migration crisis. Our priorities are to dismantle people-smuggling rings, establish dialogue with countries of origin and transit, and support vulnerable people.

The Channel Tunnel

The current legal regime applicable to the Channel Tunnel Fixed Link is defined by the provisions of the Treaty of Canterbury of 12 February 1986 concerning the Construction and Operation by Private Concessionaires of a Channel Fixed Link and the provisions of the quadripartite Concession of 14 March 1986 between the French and British governments and the concessionaire, Eurotunnel. An Intergovernmental Commission (IGC) was established “to supervise, in the name and on behalf of the two governments, all matters concerning the construction and operation of the Fixed Link.” It holds regulatory powers as regards the Fixed Link.

Young Leaders Programme

At the Franco-British summit in March 2016, the British Prime Minister and French President announced a major bilateral initiative: the Franco-British Young Leaders Programme.

Every year, between 30 and 40 talented French and British under-40s will be selected by a jury led by Patricia Barbizet, former CEO of Christies, from fields as varied as business, the arts, media, academia, social affairs, government and the military.
The programme aims to increase mutual understanding and cooperation between French and British societies up to the highest level, enabling future leaders from both countries to develop a culture of exchange.

The programme began in summer 2017 with a first cohort and a session in the UK.

Published on 10/01/2020

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