France

France is Germany’s most important cooperation partner among EU member states. Close cooperation exists in many areas and at different levels: between ministries, research, educational and scientific organisations and in projects. Numerous and diverse cooperation activities have developed between Germany and France in the last 60 years.

Eiffel-Tower in Paris

© TonyBaggett / iStock / Thinkstock

Funding opportunities

Funding opportunities for German-French cooperation are varied and offered by different institutions, most are subject specific. Information about funding possibilities is available from the International Bureau or the Federal Funding Agency.  Information on funding opportunities for cooperation with France is available at the portal “Kooperation international” here.

News

The German and French cabinets met at the Franco-German Council of Ministers on 31 May 2021 in Berlin. They reaffirmed their determination to work even more closely together and to engage jointly for a strong, future-oriented and sovereign Europe. Germany and France are jointly developing solutions for the most important future-oriented topics such as cyber security, new communication technologies and artificial intelligence. The topics of quantum computing, health, climate and a sustainable energy supply also play a major role in the cooperation. Outstanding examples from the large number of projects and initiatives are the joint engagement in the Franco-German Forum of the Future and the new German-French cooperation in West Africa. Learn more…

The International Bureau at the DLR Project Management Agency supports the Federal Ministry of Education and Research in Franco-German cooperation and in particular in the preparation, implementation and follow-up of events.

Political framework

Treaties 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. On 22 January 1963, the Elysée Treaty was signed between Germany and France. 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 and which came into force in January 2020, 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 Council of Ministers

The Franco-German Council of Ministers form the political framework for bilateral cooperation. Regular coordination takes place there at the highest political level with regard to Franco-German cooperation in the key areas of education, research and innovation. Franco-German cooperation on key issues relating to education, research and innovation is regularly coordinated at ministerial level by these Councils.

At the Franco-German Council of Ministers on 16 October 2019 in Toulouse the deepening of cooperation in education, research and innovation was reaffirmed and the "German-French Declaration of Toulouse" was adopted. The stronger networking of the education systems and universities as well as joint research were defined as priorities for the cooperation. Other important topics of cooperation are the research for climate protection, the European university alliances and artificial intelligence, for which a joint roadmap for the development of a virtual research and innovation network was signed. The exchange of students and trainees is also one of the priorities.

The last Franco-German Council of Ministers took place on 31 May 2021 in Berlin (virtually) with a meeting of the German and French cabinets. The well-advancing implementation of the Aachen Treaty was acknowledged, new priority projects were identified and the Franco-German Declaration of Berlin was endorsed. Within the framework of the Council of Ministers, the two research ministers also exchanged bilaterally on important cooperation topics in the field of research and innovation.

Further high-level talks of the new Federal Minister of Education and Research, Bettina Stark-Watzinger, with the French Minister of Research Vidal and the French Minister of National Education Blanquer, took place on 24 January 2022 on the side-lines of the informal meeting of EU research ministers in Paris.

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.

Priorities of the cooperation

The priorities of the bilateral cooperation primarily result from the Franco-German Agenda 2020, the joint 2012 Roadmap and the 2014 Franco-German Declaration. The annual German-French Councils of Ministers and the Joint Declarations adopted also play an important role. The Aachen Treaty, which came into force in 2020, also sets priorities for the cooperation. In terms of content, these priorities are substantiated by the Fora for Franco-German Research Cooperation, which have taken place since 2002 (see Highlights of the bilateral cooperation).

Institutional cooperation

Centre Marc Bloch

The Centre Marc Bloch (CMB) is a Franco-German research center for social sciences that was founded in 1992 and conducts interdisciplinary research and promotion of young people in the humanities and social sciences with research topics in Central and Eastern Europe. Since 2011, the CMB has been closely linked to the Humboldt University in Berlin as an "affiliated institute" through a cooperation agreement. In March 2015, the CMB received its own legal personality as a registered association with joint German-French sponsorship.

Franco-German University

The Franco-German University, founded on the occasion of the German-French summit in Weimar 1997, is another important binational institution. The Franco-German University is a key player in the cooperation between Germany and France in the field of higher education. Its core business consists of initiating, evaluating and financially supporting Franco-German courses. The Franco-German University also promotes young scientists through Franco-German doctoral colleges and scientific events. It currently cooperates with 208 German and French universities that offer 186 cross-border study programs in various disciplines. Around 6,400 students and 350 doctoral students take part in them.

Vocational education and training cooperation

The stated target of the vocational education and training cooperation is to further strengthen the mobility of students and apprentices between Germany and France using the European education and youth programme Erasmus+ and ProTandem, the German-French Agency for exchange in vocational education. The aim of the exchanges made possible by ProTandem is to enable a working stay of the participants in the other country and to strengthen skills in professional, linguistic and cultural areas. Since 1980, the programme has supported the exchange of around 110,000 trainees.

Highlights of the bilateral cooperation

Forum for Franco-German Research Cooperation

The Fora for Franco-German Research Cooperation, which have taken place since 2002, are of key importance in the bilateral cooperation. The goal of these for a is to coordinate Germany’s and France’s research and innovation policy strategies and priorities at high level. Following the fora in Paris (2002, 2008, 2014), Potsdam (2005) and Berlin (2011), the  6th Franco-German Research Cooperation Forum ttook 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.

Background information on the research landscape

Frédérique Vidal has been the French Minister for Higher Education, Research and Innovation since 17 May 2017. The Ministry of Research (Ministère de l'Enseignement supérieur, de la Recherche et de l'Innovation, MESRI) is responsible for the preparation and implementation of higher education, research and technology policies. The Ministry for National Education, Youth and Sport (Ministère de l'Éducation Nationale, de la Jeunesse et des Sports, MENJS) under Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer is responsible for education policy.

In November 2020, the law on programming for research and higher education for 2021 to 2030 with a corresponding financial framework of 25 billion euros and accompanying reforms was endorsed ("Loi de programming de la recherche pour les années 2021 à 2030").

The main French research organisation is the National Center for Scientific Research CNRS (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique), which reports to the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation and is dedicated to basic research. The CNRS employs 32,000 people and is divided into eight departments: Nuclear and Particle Physics, Engineering Sciences, Earth Sciences, Humanities and Social Sciences, Life Sciences, Chemistry, Physical and Mathematical Sciences, and Communication, Information Sciences and Technology.

Funding in France

In France, institutional research and development funding is organised by 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 Agency for Ecological Transition (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. In the EU Framework Programme Horizon 2020, 90 percent of projects 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).