Bilateral relations Switzerland–France

Relations between Switzerland and France are
rich and vibrant, particularly in the border areas. The two countries share a
language and have close human, political, economic and cultural ties. They
maintain close and regular contacts at all levels.

Key aspects of diplomatic relations

France, as a neighbouring country and founding member of the European Union (EU), is a priority partner of Swiss foreign policy. Relations between the two countries are governed by numerous bilateral treaties as well as by a series of agreements concluded between Switzerland and the EU.

Switzerland and France share a border of almost 600km in length. Cross-border exchanges are very intensive, especially in the Geneva conurbation, the Lake Geneva and Mont Blanc regions, the Upper Rhine and along the Jura Arc region. More than 180,000 people cross the Swiss-French border every day to work in Switzerland.

Bilateral cooperation focuses in particular on economic, fiscal and financial
issues, cooperation in research and innovation, and infrastructure projects.

France and Switzerland also conduct regular exchanges on current international issues and on cooperation in multilateral bodies.

Treaty database 

Economic cooperation

France is Switzerland's fifth most important trading partner after Germany, the United States, the United Kingdom and Italy. In 2019 it accounted for 6.5% of Swiss exports with a volume of trade between the two countries amounting to CHF 38 billion. Trade with the Auvergne Rhône-Alpes, Bourgogne-Franche-Comté and Grand-Est border regions is particularly important. In 2018 Switzerland was the second largest ultimate investor in France with investments amounting to EUR 82.3 billion, just behind the United States. French investments in Switzerland amounted to CHF 48.7 billion that year, making it Switzerland's fourth largest foreign investor. Some 1,100 Swiss companies in France employ 265,000 people; in Switzerland, there are 1,500 French companies employing around 71,000 people. An additional 180,000 French citizens travel to Switzerland every day to work.

Cooperation in education, research and innovation

Switzerland and France maintain close relations in the areas of education and research. Representatives of the Swiss State Secretariat for Education Research and Innovation (SERI) meet regularly with officials from the French Ministry of National Education, Higher Education and Research and Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation. The two countries cooperate closely within several programmes and organisations at the European level, such as CERN and the European Space Agency (ESA). Thanks to their joint efforts at the ESA, in 2019 the CHEOPS telescope satellite mission to determine the size, composition and atmospheric properties of extrasolar planets was launched.

Swiss nationals in France

In 2019, approximately 200,000 Swiss nationals were registered with the Swiss embassy and consulates general in France. Swiss nationals in France form the largest Swiss community abroad.

Statistics on Swiss nationals living abroad

Cultural exchanges

Cultural exchanges between Switzerland and France are long-standing, rich and diverse. For more than 30 years, Pro Helvetia has been financing the «Centre culturel suisse» in Paris, which is mandated to promote and disseminate contemporary Swiss cultural production. The Swiss Embassy in Paris, as well as the Consulates General of Lyon, Marseille and Strasbourg, facilitate and support communication around Swiss cultural events programmed by numerous French partner institutions. The relevant state bodies meet regularly for cultural exchange.

History of bilateral relations

In 1798 Switzerland opened its first diplomatic representation abroad, in Paris, and as a result, a Swiss consulate was soon opened in Bordeaux. At the end of the 19th century France was the only nation with a diplomatic representation in Bern. 

France, Historical Dictionary of Switzerland (de, fr, it)