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COUNTRY PROFILES


PROFILE

Area (not including overseas territories): 547,030 sq km (land: 545,630 sq km; water: 1,400 sq km)
Population: 63.4 million
Capital City: Paris
Language(s): French
Religion(s): Roman Catholic 90%, Muslim (primarily North African) 8%, Protestants 2%, Jewish 1%, Unaffiliated 4%
Currency: Euro
Head of State: President Nicolas Sarkozy (UMP)
Prime Minister: M. François Fillon (UMP)
Foreign Minister: M. Bernard Kouchner(Independent, former PS)
Membership of international groups/organisations: EU, UN (Permanent Member of the UN Security Council), NATO, G8, EBRD, FAO, IMO, OECD, OSCE, WEU, WHO and many other smaller international groups.

Did You Know?

-- 1270 UK towns are twinned with French towns - more than with any other country.

-- Kronenbourg beer is owned by Scottish & Newcastle Brewery.

-- The passenger capsules in the London Eye were supplied by a French cable car and ski lift company.

-- The centenary of the Entente Cordiale between Britain and France was celebrated in 2004.

The Franco-British Council was created, on the joint initiative of President Georges Pompidou and Prime Minister Edward Heath, when Britain joined the European Community. The aim is to promote better understanding between Britain and France and to contribute to the development of joint action through meetings of leading representatives of the worlds of culture, science, education, politics and business in the context of a developing Europe and of an increasingly globalised community.

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ECONOMY

Basic economic facts (2007 figures)

GDP: €1.948 Trillion
Annual Growth: 0.7%
Inflation: 2.8%
Major Industries: Aerospace, automotive, pharmaceuticals, industrial machinery, food and drink, tourism
Major trading partners: US and European markets
UK Trade & Investment Country Profile: France (https://www.uktradeinvest.gov.uk/ukti/appmanager/ukti/countries?_nfls=false&_nfpb=true&_pageLabel=CountryType1&navigationPageId=/france)

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HISTORY

BBC Timeline of France (http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/europe/country_profiles/newsid_998000/998481.stm)

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INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

As permanent members of the UN Security Council, the UK and France are committed to act together to resolve crises and preserve peace and security worldwide. We are engaged, alongside our allies on issues such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, combating piracy off the coast of Somalia, the Balkans, Africa, the Balkans, Iran, Afghanistan, Burma and the fight against terrorism. We are major participants in UN peacekeeping operations.

Britain and France also work closely together on foreign policy issues within the EU, notably the Middle East Peace Process, where we have taken the lead in Europe on crisis management. At the 2009 UK-France Summit, we reaffirmed our desire for a strong European security framework, based on existing institutions including EU and NATO and the OSCE. Our goal is a strong trans-Atlantic relationship and improved relations with Russia, allowing greater confidence and cooperation.

Global and Strategic Issues

We have a close and collaborative relationship with France on a wide range of global issues, from the environment to counter-terrorism, co-operation against illegal immigration to climate change, counter-proliferation to development co-operation. Our international objectives in these areas are closely aligned and we seek to work together in all major international for a to deliver them.

Climate change and energy

France is a key European and G8 partner on climate change issues. They are committed supporters of the UN/Kyoto processes and have a similar long-term national target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions as the UK. France aims to reduce emissions by a factor of 4 by 2050.

France’s reliance on nuclear energy for nearly 80% of its electricity production means that it has lower overall and per capita greenhouse gas emissions than the UK. However, its continuing reliance on imports of fossil fuels, particularly oil and gas, for transport and industry means that we share many common concerns over energy security issues.

At the 2009 UK-France Summit, the UK and France called for international action commensurate with the challenges expressed by scientists, and we agreed that limiting the temperature increase to less than 2°C above pre-industrial levels is an absolute imperative. We also called on all the industrialised countires to approve a target of cutting their greenhouse gas emissions to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.

The UK and France willa lso seek an ambitious global agreement not only on cutting CO2 emissioins in Copenhagen in December 2009, but also on solidarity with the most vulnerable countries in order to deal with the climate change under way today.

In addition to the efforts to reduce domestic emissions, the fight against deforestation, a priority for both our countries, is an important means of achieving our objectives. We callon the industrialised countries to increase forestry investment.

Non-proliferation, deterrence and disarmament

The UK and France agree on the vital importance of enhancing the global security of nuclear materials and preventing the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, and their means of delivery. We are united in our determination not to allow Iran to gain access to nuclear weapon capabilities, as this would constitute a threat to international peace and security.

At the 2009 UK-France Summit, we agreed that we are committed to seeking a safer world. We call on all states concerned to take the bold measures we have already taken, consistent with Article 6 of the NPT. We also agreed to strengthen our bilateral dialogue on nuclear deterrence, which are a core element of our national and Allied defence strategies and are strictly for defensive purposes, to deter any threats posed to our vital interests;
The UK and France are also working together to cope with the threats emerging in the fields of cybersecurity, space security, energy infrastructures and transport security and missiles, and towards establishing an Arms trade treaty putting in place common standards for international commerce of conventional weapons.

Counter-terrorism

The UK and France are determined to continue to safeguard our national interests against the threat from terrorism, We are committed to maintaining high level operational co-ordination and strengthening our joint work on reducing the threat from nuclear terrorism. We are also working together in Afghanistan and Pakistan on terrorist networks connecting to Europe other regions and on our concern at the growing threat from Al Qaida in the Maghreb, Sahel and other African countries concerned.

Global Governance and Development

The UK and France intend to cooperate closely to confront the political, economic and security issues of the 21st century. Pursuit of the reform of the governance of international institutions is a necessity if they are to be made more capable of meeting the challenges raised by international security and responding to the global economic crisis and under-development.

We wish to pursue our efforts to ensure that the UN Security Council is more representative of today’s world while at the same time preserving its capacity to take the steps required to cope with the problems of security posed by the 21st century.

At the 2009 UK-France Summit, we agreed to act together at bilateral, European and international levels to ensure the swiftest possible implementation of the decisions taken at the G20 summit in London, based around the four key principles of : the necessity for coordinated and concerted stimulus, rejection of protectionism, more effective regulation of financial markets and a new approach to global governance.

Although the international financial and economic crisis threatens the progress made in recent years by developing countries, we are intensifying our effort of solidarity required to assist the poorest countries. The United Kingdom and France have therefore reaffirmed their wish to act jointly to address the three challenges facing the international community: the challenge of poverty, the challenge of growth and the challenge of preserving Global Public Goods.

In this context France and the United Kingdom reaffirm their commitment to achieving their Overseas Development Aid (ODA) pledges, including for reaching the target of 0.7% of GNI to ODA. The objectives of official development aid will be maintained and that aid will be better targeted and adjusted to suit the diversity of situations and actors. Our agreed priorities are to promote improvement in the public health situation in developing countries, innovative financing for development, and to support the eight Million children in primary education in Africa.

Immigration

Co-operation on immigration is particularly close, and is visibly demonstrated by the UK-French juxtaposed controls at Boulogne, Calais, The Channel Tunnel, Dunkerque and the Gare du Nord. The number of illegal immigrants entering the UK from French ports has fallen dramatically in recent years, notably following the closure of the Sangatte reception centre in 2002.

At the 2009 UK-France Summit, the UK and France reaffirmed their commitment to combating illegal immigration, which is a challenge for both countries and the entire European Union.We are currently working with France on a wide range of immigration-related issues, ranging from work with source and transit countries to tackling smugglers and people traffickers.
Security at the shared border will be strengthened with a view to making it impervious to illegal immigrants and immigration networks, most notably through the use of latest and most appropriate technology, and by furthering our joint control arrangements each others at the ports and stations, in the context of a fair sharing of all operational activity and costs.

Both the UK and France have undertaken to effect a significant increase in enforced returns and reintegration of illegal migrants to their countries of origin, and to promote a European policy, in accordance with the European Pact on Immigration and Asylum, of firmness and solidarity between the member countries of the European Union.

RELATIONS WITH THE UNITED KINGDOM

Diplomatic Representation

UK representation to France

The British Embassy is located in Paris, and Sir Peter Westmacott is Her Majesty’s Ambassador to France. The UK also has Consulates in Lille, Marseille, Bordeaux and Lyon. In addition, there are a number of British Honorary Consuls throughout France and its Overseas Territories, based in Amiens, Boulogne, Calais, Cherbourg, Clermont-Ferrand, Dunkirk, Martinique, French Guiana (Cayenne), French Polynesia (Papeete), Guadeloupe, La Reunion, Le Harve, Lorient, Montpelier, Nantes, New Caledonia (Nouema), Nice, St Malo, Toulouse and Tours.

French representation to the UK (http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/travel-and-living-abroad/foreign-embassy-in-the-uk2/france/)

The French Embassy is based in London, and H.E. Maurice Gourdault-Montagne is France’s Ambassador to the UK.

The last bilateral summit took place in Evian on 6 July 2009. We agreed joint work on international climate negotiations, immigration, global governance and development, nuclear energy, defence and security, and promoting a European industrial ambition. The Prime Minister described UK-French relations as "entente formidable au soleil" and said that "President Sarkozy and I share a vision of a better future. It is a partnership based on shared values."

UK-France Summit 2008: Joint Declaration (http://www.number10.gov.uk/Page15144)

UK-France Summit 2009: Joint Declaration (http://www.number10.gov.uk/Page19936)

Defence

Co-operation on the European Defence Initiative has been a key element of intensifying Franco-British relations. A Joint Declaration on European Defence was issued at St Malo in December1998. This reflects our shared aims of a stronger, swifter, more coherent voice in international foreign policy backed up by strengthened European military capabilities, to enable Europe to respond better to security challenges.

At Le Touquet on 4 February 2003, Britain and France agreed to take European Defence to anew stage in three areas which correspond to today’s challenges: the EU’s role in crisis management; the solidarity of its Member States in the face of threats which affect their common security; and the effective strengthening of their military capabilities.

At the 2009 UK-France Summit, we agreed that we need, more than ever, to cooperate more closely to make better use of our assets and to develop military capabilities which reinforce both the EU and the Atlantic Alliance. The UK has warmly welcomed France's full participation in the NATO military structure, which provides an opportunity for reforming NATO and strengthening our Alliance. The UK and France are working together to: foster delivery of effective capabilities tomeet force generation requirements, improve and develop NATO/EU relations, openess and cooperation, and to streamline and reform the NATO HQ and military command structure.

We also called on Europeans to take a greater share of responsibility in providing for our security. In this regard, the UK and France will support innovative ways to improve European capabilities under terms agreed by all EU Member States under the European Security and Defence Policy (for example work to improve the EU's capability to deploy civilians overseas and to develop EU crisis management capabilities).

French and British military forces operate and exercise together extensively. For example, in recent years they have worked successfully together in the Balkans, Afghanistan and Africa, as well as in the skies and on the seas in many parts of the world.

Cultural Relations with the UK

Many educational exchanges link France and the UK. France and the UK are each other's favourite destination for study under the Erasmus scheme; and over 100,000 young French people visit the UK every year to learn English. A number of scholarship schemes operate, such as the privately funded Entente Cordiale programme funding approximately 300 French and British scholars sinceits inception. Over 12,000 French students are currently studying at undergraduate and postgraduate level in UK Universities. A growing number of regional partnerships between French ‘académies’ and UK local authorities (11 académies and 13 LA’s in 2006/7) support school linking projects and related activity e.g. joint curriculum projects, student fellowships and an annual youth conference. In addition,cross-curricular projects such as Science in Schools and Learning through Sport (Rugby World Cup 2007) enhance Franco-British school linking initiatives.

the 2008 UK-France Summit, it was also agreed that equipping our citizens with the right skills is crucial in enabling them to take advantage of the opportunities offered by globalisation. Both countries committed to carrying on the long tradition of teaching each other’s languages in schools.

The UK is the second most popular destination for tourists from France (after Spain and before Italy), with 3.3 million visits each year (compared to 3.4million visits from the USA). These visitors spent £796 million in2005. There are also estimated to be 200,000-300,000 young French working in London. France is top of the UK’s tourist league with 14 million British visitors each year. British Council: France (http://www.britishcouncil.org/new/)


Recent visits

Inward

-- President Sarkozy: 1-2 April 2009 (G20 Summit)
-- President Sarkozy: 8 December 2008 (Global Europe Conference)
-- President Sarkozy: 26-28 March 2008 (State Visit and UK-France Summit)
-- Prime Minister Villepin: 17 January 2007
-- Prime Minister Villepin: 10 May 2006
-- President Chirac: 27 October 2005 (Hampton Court informal summit)
-- Prime Minister Villepin: 25 July 2005
-- President Chirac: 6-8 July 2005 (G8 Summit, Gleneagles)
-- Prime Minister Raffarin: 29 November 2004
President Chirac: 18 November 2004 (UK/France Summit)
-- President and Madame Chirac: 18-19 November 2004 (Special Guests of The Queen, to mark the end of the Entente Cordiale Centenary)

Outward

2009
-- then Foreign Secretary: 8-9 September (Conference at Sciences Po followed by dinner at the French MFA)
-- then Prime Minister: 15 September (Dinner with President Sarkozy)
-- then Foreign Secretary, 2 October (17th Plenary Session of Club of 3)

2010

-- Prime Minister: 20-21 May (Dinner with President Sarkozy)
-- Foreign Secretary: 6-7 June (Dinner with French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner and breakfast with Jean-David Levitte, Sherpa and Diplomatic Advisor to President Sarkozy)
-- TRH the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall: 19 July (Dedication of Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery & Neuve Chapelle Memorial)

Bilateral Conferences

The British-French Colloque is an annual conference on Global Issues, involving prominent figures from the UK and France. The 2009 Colloque was held in Versailles in January. The last Colloque held in the UK was in January 2008 in Hampshire.

Travel

Travel advice: France (http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/travel-and-living-abroad/travel-advice-by-country/europe/france1/)

Useful links

The French Government (http://www.premier-ministre.gouv.fr/fr/)
Franco-British Council (http://www.francobritishcouncil.org.uk/)
The Franco-British Council was created, on the joint initiative of President Georges Pompidou and Prime Minister Edward Heath, when Britain joined the European Community. The council aims to promote better understanding between Britain and France and to contribute to the development of joint action through meetings of leading representatives of the worlds of culture, science, education, politics and business in the context of a developing Europe and of an increasingly globalised community.

French Newspapers: Le Monde (http://www.lemonde.fr/) ; Les Echos (http://www.lesechos.fr/) ; Le Figaro (http://www.lefigaro.fr/) ; Liberation (http://www.liberation.fr/) ; La Tribune (http://www.latribune.fr/accueil/a-la-une.html) ; Le Parisien (http://www.leparisien.fr/actualites-informations-direct-videos-parisien)

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GEOGRAPHY

test Location: Western Europe, bordering the Bay of Biscay and English Channel, between Belgium and Spain, south-east of the UK; bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Italy and Spain.

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TRADE AND INVESTMENT

Trade and investment with the UK

France and the UK are major economic and trade partners. France is the UK's third largest export market behind the US and Germany and the UK's third largest supplier. Exports to France amount to some £20 billion per year and account for nearly 10 per cent of UK visible exports worldwide.

The UK's export performance increased in various sectors such as machinery (gas turbines), pharmaceuticals, aerospace, medical instruments, iron and other heavy metals, seafood and beverages. The UK's largest trade surpluses with France are in the energy, machinery and pharmaceutical sectors.

Around 2,000 UK companies are operating in France through subsidiaries, Joint ventures or partnerships including HSBC, Barclays, Kingfisher and Unilever.

France is the second European country source of new investments. In 2007/08, 88 French companies invested in the UK creating 3,339 new jobs.

Over 2,000 French firms, subsidiaries and branches are established in the UK employing approximately 330,000 people. French investments are notable in the service sector such as banking, telecommunications, electricity, hotels, restaurants and transport. Large French investors are EDF, AXA, L'Oréal, BNP, Vinci and Veolia.

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POLITICS

Nicolas Sarkozy (UMP) was elected President on 6 May, with 53% of the second round vote, defeating Parti Socialiste candidate Ségolène Royal. He officially took office on 16 May, succeeding Jacques Chirac, and appointed François Fillon as Prime Minister and an interim Council of Ministers. In the following parliamentary elections on 10 and 17 June the UMP won an overall majority, and a full Government under Prime Minister Fillon was appointed. The victory was the first occasion since 1978 that the incumbent party had been re-elected. The UMP party finished with 313 seats, which with aligned Deputées leaves the UMP parliamentary group with 319 seats compared to 204 for the Socialists group. Before the election the UDF (centrist party) had split into two: François Bayrou’s MoDem won just 3 seats while the Nouveau Centre (NC), which broadly supports the UMP, picked up 23. A NC Deputé later switched to MoDem.

Senate elections took place on 21 September 2008, where 114 out of 343 Senators were up for re-election. Although the UMP retained their overall majority, they lost 8 seats, bringing their total number down to 151. The Socialist party gained 21, raising their total to 116. Meanwhile, the third largest party, the UDF, lost one seat, reducing their total to 29.

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Last Updated: August 2010

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