France is Germany’s most important cooperation partner among EU member states. Close cooperations exist in many areas and at different levels: between ministries, research, educational and scientific organisations and in projects. Numerous and diverse cooperations have developed between Germany and France in the last 60 years.
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Funding opportunities for German-French cooperation are varied and offered by different institutions, most are subject specific. Information about funding options is available from the International Bureau or the Federal Funding Agency. Information on funding opportunities in France is available here.
At the 21st German-French Council of Ministers on 16.10.2019 in Toulouse, the German and the French Cabinet met together. Stronger networking of education systems, universities and the joint research cooperation was defined as cooperation priority. Important topics in this regard are research for climate protection, artificial intelligence and European university alliances. A joint roadmap for a Research and Innovation Network on Artificial Intelligence was signed. Furthermore, the exchange of students and apprentices is also being intensified. Learn more …
"MOPGA" (Make Our Planet Great Again) is the name of a top-level research programme in which Germany and France work closely together in the fight against climate change; it goes back to an initiative of the French President Emmanuel Macron. Federal Minister of Research and Education Anja Karliczek opened the inaugural conference in Paris on 1 October 2019 together with her French counterpart Frédérique Vidal. The programme supports 55 international scientists from the fields of climate, energy and earth system research. Learn more…
Treaty and agreements
The German-French cooperation is based on the “Cultural Treaty between the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany and the Government of the French Republic”, which became effective in 1955. Several treaties and agreements supplement this treaty, which have been concluded between the ministries responsible for research and between the major German and French research organisations since then.
With the Treaty of Aachen, signed by Chancellor Merkel and President Macron on January 22, 2019, both countries reaffirmed the importance of this cooperation and made it clear that cooperation between the two states will become even more intense in the future.
Franco-German Ministerial Councils
The Franco-German Ministerial Councils, that have been held every six months since 2003 and annually since 2013, form the political framework for bilateral cooperation. Franco-German cooperation on key issues relating to education, research and innovation is regularly coordinated at ministerial level by these Councils.
Thus, in 2010, Germany and France agreed upon a joint “Agenda 2020” in Paris to outline their relationships and politics for the next decade. The agenda contains 80 suggestions for projects to create a closer German-French cooperation in important political areas such as science and finance policy, energy and climate policy, foreign and security policy as well as education, research and innovation policy.
At the Ministerial Council of 2012, a joint schedule of measures was agreed, whose aim is to intensify the future cooperation between German and French researchers. Its priorities are health, biotechnology, energy, environmental research, social sciences as well as non-energetic raw materials and high-performance computers. Additions are continuously made to this schedule of measures and its priorities are continually adjusted.
The Franco-German Declaration issued in Paris in at the bilateral Ministerial Council 2014 contains an agreement for a closer cooperation. The agreed measures focussed on energy, (higher) education and research (particularly health and humanities with a special focus on inter- and transdiciplinary research, as well as a transfer of research results to industry).
The latest Franco-German Ministerial Council took place on 16 October 2019 in Toulouse, which reaffirmed the deepening of cooperation in education, research and innovation. The "German-French Declaration of Toulouse" was adopted.
The brochure „50 years of German-French cooperation in research, technology and innovation“, which was published in 2013 on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Elysée contract, offers a good overview of close German-French relations in research and education (see „Highlights of the bilateral cooperation“).
The documentation of the 6th Forum on Franco-German Research Cooperation also comprehensively presents the current research topics in the cooperation (available in German and French).
Priorities of the cooperation
The priorities of the bilateral cooperation primarily result from the Franco-German Agenda 2020, the joint 2012 Schedule of Measures and the 2014 Franco-German Declaration. In terms of content, these priorities are substantiated by the forums of the German-French research cooperation, which have taken place since 2002 (see „Highlights of the bilateral cooperation“).
The key priorities in the research cooperation between Germany and France are:
In addition, the two countries cooperate as part of the European Strategy Forum for Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) and are involved in a UV laser equipment projects (XFEL) in Hamburg and in FAIR (source for heavy ion research).
In terms of cooperation at institutional level, particularly the cooperation Fraunhofer-Carnot between the association Fraunhofer Gesellschaft and the Institute Carnots are worth mentioning.
Centre Marc Bloch
The Centre Marc Bloch, founded in 1992 as a Franco-German research institute for social sciences and as an institution for the education of young scientists, is of special importance. On 31 March 2015, it became an independent legal entity as a registered association and as such will develop into a binational research institution with a joint organisational structure.
The Franco-German University, founded on the occasion of the German-French summit in Weimar 1997, is another important binational institution. This is a network consisting of 180 universities in Germany and France.
Occupational training cooperation
The stated target of the occupational training cooperation is to further strengthen the learning mobility between Germany and France using the European education and youth programme Erasmus+ and ProTandem, the German-French Agency for exchange in vocational education..
Highlights of the bilateral cooperation
50 years of Franco-German cooperation
Germany and France want to face up to the challenges of the 21st century together. This includes close coordination which has been set in the Treaty of Aachen between Germany and France, signed on 22 January 2019 by Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron in Aachen. The research and education sectors also play a prominent role in the Treaty, especially in the areas of climate protection, digitisation and Artificial Intelligence.
The official event to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Élysée contract took place in Berlin on 21/22 January 2013. In addition to a Franco-German ministerial council of both cabinets, several meetings of both parliaments took place in Berlin on 22 January 2013 and were attended by the majority of French Members of Parliament.
Franco-German Research Cooperation Fora
The Franco-German Research Cooperation Forums, which have taken place since 2002, are of key importance in the bilateral cooperation. The goal of these forums is to coordinate Germany and France’s research and innovation policy strategies and priorities at a high level. Following the fora in Paris (2002, 2008, 2014), Potsdam (2005) and Berlin (2011), the 6th Franco-German Research Cooperation Forum took place in June 2018 in Berlin. The Forum was attended by over 150 people, including senior members of all German and French research and intermediary organisations, university rectors and high-level experts. Federal Research Minister Anja Karliczek and her French counterpart Frédérique Vidal opened the forum and signed a Memorandum of Understanding with a package of measures to be implemented in a timely manner with key themes for the coming years: health and energy research, IT security research and the humanities and social sciences.
The International Bureau in the DLR Project Management Agency supports the Federal Ministry for Education and Research in the Franco-German cooperation, particularly in preparing, holding and following up on events.
Background information to the research landscape
The French Higher Education and Research Act - large parts of which have already been implemented - was issued on 22 July 2013 based on an extensive consultation process on higher education and research policy. In this context, the French government in May 2013 issued a strategic agenda for research, transfer and innovation (Agenda France Europe 2020). Based on this agenda, a National Research Strategy outlining targets and prioritised research areas was developed and adopted in March 2015.
In France, institutional research and development funding is organised by the interministerial committee MIRES under the leadership of the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and innovation (MESRI).
Competitive project funding of basic research and development is provided by the National Agency for Research Funding (ANR), the Public Investments Bank (BPIfrance) and the Environment and Energy Agency (ADEME). In addition, agencies such as the Cluster Pôles de Compétitivité and regional research and technology officers support regional site policy. France also maintains one of the largest tax funding programmes for industrial research and development in the world, the Crédit d‘impôt recherche.
Cooperation at European level
France and Germany play a key role in the European Union research funding programmes. 4,000 Projects took place as part of the German-French research framework programme. 90 percent of projects in Horizon 2020 now include German-French involvement in the New Materials and Nanotechnology areas, the figure is 80 percent in the field of Health and Transport.
At the strategic level, both countries also cooperate closely as powerhouses of Europe, such as in the design of the European Research Area and in many EU member state committees. Germany and France are involved in a large number of major European initiatives and networks, such as Joint Programming Initiatives, ERA networks, European Technology Platforms (ETPs), European Infrastructure Consortia (ERICs) and Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs).