Switzerland and Germany enjoy close and varied relations. The two countries share a common language and maintain extensive economic, cultural and people-to-people exchanges.
Bilateral relations Switzerland–Germany
Key aspects of diplomatic relations
Political relations between Switzerland and Germany have traditionally been good. They are based on more than 200 agreements. Numerous bilateral meetings are held each year between ministers and high-ranking officials. In addition, Switzerland and Germany regularly exchange views on current international issues and cooperate in multilateral bodies. Since 2003, there have also been institutional contacts between the Swiss Parliament and the German Bundestag. In cross-border matters, too, Switzerland works closely with Germany through well-established regional bodies.
Germany is Switzerland's most important trade partner worldwide. In 2018, 2019, 2021 and 2022, the trade volume exceeded the CHF 100 billion mark each year. Chemical and pharmaceutical products are the leading Swiss exports, with a share of over a third of the total (35.5%). This product category also accounts for almost a quarter (24.8%) of Swiss imports from Germany.
Swiss direct investment in Germany has risen steadily since 2015. Between 2013 and 2020, the stock of German direct investment in Switzerland fluctuated between CHF 30.6 billion and CHF 42.1 billion.
Trade exchanges between the two neighbouring countries are also very significant. Indeed, the trade volume between Switzerland and the border region Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria is larger than that with China.
Cooperation in education, research and innovation
Germany is Switzerland's most important partner in education, research and innovation. Meetings are regularly held at government level and working meetings at technical level. Alongside EU research and education programmes, there are also numerous bilateral cooperation and exchange agreements between the two countries. Researchers and artists who are citizens of Germany can apply to the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships.
Cooperation in the field of mediation and security
Switzerland and Germany are cooperating closely in the field of mediation, with a view to developing their capabilities and professional standards. They regularly offer training courses and, together with Finland, Sweden, the United Nations and the OSCE, are working to launch a master's programme in peace mediation at ETH Zurich.
The two countries are also actively engaged in climate and security issues as members of the Group of Friends on Climate and Security, which Germany co-founded in 2018. The Group aims to develop cooperative solutions for the impact of climate change on security policy, raise public awareness, and enhance the involvement of the United Nations in this area. Finally, Switzerland takes part every year in the Berlin Climate and Security Conference, which is hosted by Germany.
The close cultural relations between the two countries have a long tradition and are based on their shared language. Exchanges between Swiss artists and representatives of the German cultural scene are significant and enrich the cultural life of the country as a whole. Switzerland's embassy and consulates promote a range of projects across Germany. For example, the Swiss embassy in Berlin and the consulate general in Stuttgart jointly organised the Pop-up House in Stuttgart.
Swiss nationals in Germany
In 2022 there were 98,121 Swiss citizens living in Germany. German nationals are the second largest foreign community in Switzerland, numbering around 317,544 in 2022.
History of bilateral relations
In 1867, the Federal Council decided to open a diplomatic representation in Berlin. In 1919, Switzerland purchased the building that now houses the Swiss embassy to Germany. In 1951, following the end of the Second World War and the division of Germany, Switzerland resumed diplomatic relations, initially only recognising the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany). Following the détente policy launched by West German Chancellor Willy Brandt, Switzerland recognised the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) in 1972. Although the two German states were reunified in 1990 and the seat of the German capital was moved from Bonn to Berlin that year, Switzerland's embassy remained in Bonn until 1999. In 2001, Switzerland transferred its embassy to the building of the former Swiss legation in Berlin.