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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.

Key aspects of diplomatic relations

Bilateral relations between Switzerland and Italy are based on a complex set 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 in dialogue on taxation and the two countries maintain close cooperation in the transport and energy sectors as well as in infrastructure development. In addition to economic dialogue, Switzerland and Italy also conduct a dialogue on agricultural matters, which were discussed for the second time in February 2013. All of these ties provide a welcome opportunity for Switzerland to discuss bilateral affairs, European matters and international issues with its third biggest trading partner. 

Bodies such as "Regio Insubrica", "Regio Sempione", "Espace Mont-Blanc" as well as Italian-Swiss cross-border dialogue provide an institutional framework for cross-border cooperation. 

Switzerland will contribute a pavilion to Expo Milano 2015, whose theme is "Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life". Moreover, in the run-up to the exhibition, Switzerland is organising events in various Italian cities to promote awareness among the Italian public of Switzerland's innovative strengths and cultural and linguistic diversity. 

Around 500,000 Italian nationals live in Switzerland and they represent an important factor in relations between the two countries.

Economic cooperation

Economic cooperation
Italy is – after Germany and the United States – Switzerland's third biggest trading partner, and posts a trade surplus with Switzerland year after year (CHF 3.8 billion in 2012). 

More than 77,000 jobs were created through Swiss direct investment in Italy (CHF 25.7 billion) in 2012. In the same year, Italian businesses invested CHF 4 billion in Switzerland, which represents some 13,000 jobs. 

Cooperation is especially close in the Swiss-Italian border region, where over 60,000 Italians cross into Switzerland every day to work.

Cooperation in the field of education

Four Swiss schools are located in Milan, Bergamo, Rome and 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 brought a new dimension 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 for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships to the State Secretariat for Education Research and Innovation (SERI).

Swiss nationals in Italy

In 2013, there were 50,716 Swiss citizens living in Italy.

Cultural exchanges

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.

History of bilateral relations

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 Italy's unification.