Germany and France: Research and Innovation for the Future of Europe

As knowledge-based economies, France and Germany attach particular importance to the areas of education, research and innovation. Innovation is the mainspring of prosperity and quality of life.

Karliczek in Frankreich
Federal Minister Anja Karliczek and French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris in March 2018 © Michael von Aulock 2018

Germany and France are engaged in an exchange of information on their respective national research and innovation strategies which enables them to take joint action. Their bilateral cooperation plays an important part in ensuring Europe’s future. Furthermore, the two countries want to act as drivers for the development of a European Research Area (ERA) that is based on excellence and has an international impact.

Regular meetings

Cooperation in education, research and innovation is a central topic of exchange at the Franco-German Council of Ministers. The research ministers from both countries come together for regular meetings taking place alternately in Germany and France. For each Council meeting, priority topics are identified which are of particular importance for both countries. The initiatives launched at the Council meetings have a European dimension and are aimed at effectively coordinating cooperation at the highest political level.

Franco-German research cooperation forums have been taking place on a regular basis since 2002 and play a critical role in the countries’ collaboration. They are aimed at coordinating research and innovation strategies at a high political level. The most recent Forum was held in Paris on 8 December 2014 and was the fifth of its kind with the previous ones having taken place in Paris (2002), Potsdam (2005), Paris (2008) and Berlin (2011). The priority areas of Franco-German cooperation that were agreed at the fifth Forum include information and communication technologies, the humanities and social sciences and energy research. The next Forum which is set to take place in Germany in 2018 will develop these measures further. Cooperation by the two countries at European level focuses on climate research, non-energy resources and shaping the European Research Area.

Working together to protect our climate and ensure the sustainability of our energy System

Germany and France play a key role in shaping Europe’s new energy strategy. Both countries are faced with the challenge of having to radically reform their energy systems. A reliable and affordable energy supply can only be achieved if countries join forces. That is why the joint Franco-German research programme features, for example, the topic of grid expansion as well as the joint development of novel materials.

Franco-German Fellowship Programme on Climate, Energy and Earth System Research under the French Initiative "Make our Planet great again"

The Paris Agreement on Climate Change poses unique challenges for science as the Parties recognized ‘’the need for an effective and progressive response to the urgent threat of climate change on the basis of the best available scientific knowledge’’.

Germany and France are jointly supporting the implementation of the Paris Agreement. Both countries are leading the way with their coordinated fellowship programme to promote research in the areas of climate, energy and the Earth system. Under the French initiative "Make our planet great again", Germany and France are inviting researchers from all over the world to cooperate with German and French partners in advancing research in the following fields of sustainability science:

Research on climate change: e.g. monitoring, modelling, mitigation and social consequences

Science for the energy transition: e.g. innovative concepts and technologies for a sustainable large-scale supply of renewable energy connecting different sectors and industries, in particular energy storage and distribution; energy efficiency; systemic approach of research for the energy transition including economic, ecological, and social challenges, the supply of raw materials, and prospective scenario development and analysis.

Research to understand the Earth system: e.g. observation of the Earth system and attribution of environmental and climate changes, including anthropogenic changes to understand processes, interaction scales, risks and thresholds.

The programme also aims to network researchers. Germany and France will organize joint networking activities for the laureates in order to encourage networking between the laureates and with other international researchers in their discipline.

For more information about the French call see

Research for an innovative and resilient society

Germany and France have been cooperating successfully on civil security research for a number of years now. Investigating and developing new cybersecurity solutions is crucial for making the two countries fit for the future and is a field of strategic importance at European level. Germany and France plan to strengthen their cooperation in this area to safeguard Europe’s sovereignty with regard to key enabling technologies, running security analyses and developing reliable software‑intensive systems.

Technological progress and social innovation go hand in hand. That is why the humanities, the social sciences and economics play an important role in addressing the grand social challenges by providing sound recommendations to policy-makers, businesses and society. Germany and France have initiated specific funding measures targeted at these disciplines.

Supporting global health

Infectious diseases are among the key global challenges on which researchers are working to offer solutions. By focusing their cooperation on infection research, Germany and France are jointly addressing the global threat of infectious diseases and complementing measures at European and multilateral level.

Exchanges in vocational training

The Franco-German Commission of Experts for Cooperation in Vocational Training was set up in 1980 as was the Franco-German Secretariat for Exchanges in Vocational Training (DFS), which is operating the largest bilateral exchange programme of the Federal Education Ministry (BMBF) with more than 100,000 participants from 50 occupations to date.

This group exchange programme enables apprentices and learners in continuing education to obtain part of their training in the partner country, making use of other education programmes in a new sociocultural environment. By working and learning together, German and French adults and young people can overcome language barriers and forge contacts. Their exchange of experience also benefits the participating institutions and companies.

Franco-German University

The Franco-German University (DFH) which is headquartered in Saarbrücken, Germany, was established by the governments of both countries signing the Accord de Weimar in 1997. The aim was to strengthen Franco-German cooperation in the areas of higher education and research. The University‘s network includes roughly 190 partner institutions in both countries which offer integrated binational study programmes leading to a double degree. The DFH also supports joint training of doctoral students and networking among young researchers. Approximately 16,000 students have graduated from the DFH since its establishment.

Centre Marc Bloch e.V.

The Franco-German Centre Marc Bloch was established in 1992 with the aim of encouraging exchange between both countries’ scientific cultures. Today it is a binationally funded research institution with a common organizational structure. The centre carries out interdisciplinary research and supports young researchers in the humanities and social sciences. A special feature is its European dimension: Franco-German cooperation provides the basis for the centre’s cooperation with other countries, particularly in Central and Eastern Europe. This is evidenced by the topics and selection of researchers and doctoral students.