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Bilateral relations between Switzerland and Italy
The traditionally good relations between Switzerland and Italy are characterised by close economic, political, human and cultural ties, a common language and frequent visits at all levels.
Bilateral relations between Switzerland and Italy are based on a complex network of agreements. Regular meetings are held between government and official representatives of both countries, in addition to which there is also institutionalised contact between the two parliaments.
Since May 2012, Switzerland and Italy have been engaged in dialogue with regard to tax issues, and in June 2012 Federal President Widmer-Schlumpf and Prime Minister Monti agreed in Rome to resume negotiations on fiscal and financial questions. Close cooperation is also maintained in the areas of transport, energy and environmental policy.
Agencies such as 'Regio Insubrica', 'Regio Sempione' and the Italian-Swiss cross-border dialogue provide an institutional framework for cross-border cooperation.
Around 500,000 Italian nationals live in Switzerland and they represent an important factor in relations between the two countries.
Italy is Switzerland’s second most important trading partner, after Germany, and regularly reports a trade surplus (2011: CHF 2,9 bn). It is Switzerland’s third largest export market and second most important country of origin for Swiss imports.
As the ninth largest foreign investor in Italy with direct investments totalling CHF 20bn, Switzerland has created over 76,000 jobs in Italy. In the opposite direction Italian direct investments in Switzerland amounted to CHF 5bn in 2010, thanks to which 14,000 people were employed in Switzerland.
Cooperation is especially close in the common border zone, where over 63,000 Italians cross into Switzerland every day to work. In the first half of 2012 almost 59,000 Italian frontier workers were employed in Switzerland.
The four Swiss schools are located in Milan, Bergamo, Rome, Catania. Swiss universities also maintain good and long-standing contacts with partner institutions in Italy. The creation of the University of Lugano (USI) and the University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Southern Switzerland (SUPSI) have made a major contribution to raising the level of importance attributed to academic and cultural exchange between Switzerland and Italy.
Moreover, academic exchange has benefited from the agreement on the mutual recognition of the equivalence of university qualifications. The Academic Commission, whose mandate is to encourage cooperation, promote double doctorate programmes and improve the recognition of academic qualifications, met for the first time in 2010.
Scholars and artists from Italy can apply to the State Secretariat for Education and Research (SER) for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships.
In 2011 there were 49,555 Swiss nationals living in Italy.
Intensive relations between Switzerland and Italy also exist in the cultural sphere. Since 1947, Switzerland has maintained the “Istituto Svizzero di Roma” which is dedicated to cultural and scientific exchanges and has a regional office in Milan, the "Centro culturale svizzero". The FDFA is participating in joint projects throughout the world as part of the 'Settimana della lingua italiana nel mondo' initiated by the Italian Foreign Ministry.
In 1957 the Federal Council upgraded the Swiss legation in Rome to an embassy.
Celebrations to commemorate the 150th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Switzerland and Italy were held in 2011 at the same time as the 150th anniversary of Italian unification (Unita d'Italia).