Overview

The flags of Switzerland and the EU
Relations between Switzerland and the EU are constantly developing. © DEA

Switzerland is located in the heart of Europe and is almost entirely surrounded by member states of the European Union (EU).

Map "Europe today"

In view of its geographic and cultural proximity and particularly owing to its political and economic importance, the EU with its 28 member states is by far Switzerland’s most important partner. Switzerland is also one of the EU’s major partners, which is why an active European policy is essential for the country’s prosperity. Switzerland is not a member state of the EU; instead, it conducts its relations with the EU on the basis of bilateral sector agreements. Since the Free Trade Agreement of 1972, an increasingly dense network of agreements has been developed in several steps. This bilateral approach enables Switzerland to adopt a policy based on openness and cooperation with its European neighbours, and it has been endorsed by the Swiss electorate in various referendums. Implementation of the new constitutional provisions on immigration is a new challenge for Switzerland’s European policy.

Chronology

  • 2016: Signing of Protocol III on extending the free movement of persons to Croatia
  • 2016: Adoption by the Federal Council of a draft legislation to implement the constitutional provisions on immigration
  • 2015: Appointment by the Federal Council of Jacques de Watteville as chief negotiator in order to coordinate the negotiations with the EU
  • 2014: Rejection of the popular initiative ‘Stop overpopulation – safeguard our natural environment’ (Ecopop)
  • 2014: Signing of the participation Agreement EASO (European Asylum Support Office)
  • 2014: Start of the negotiations on the institutional issues
  • 2014: Adoption of the popular initiative ‘Stop mass immigration’
  • 2013: Signing of the Agreement on competition
  • 2011: Signing of the Agreement on the mutual recognition of Protected Designations of Origin (PDOs) and Protected Geographical Indications (PGIs) for agricultural products and foodstuffs
  • 2010: Signing of the Agreement on education, training and youth
  • 2009: Signing and provisional implementation of the revised Agreement on customs facilitation and security
  • 2009: Continuation of the free movement of persons and extension to Romania and Bulgaria
  • 2006: Adoption by the Swiss electorate of the Federal Act on cooperation with the states of Eastern Europe
    2005: Extension of the free movement of persons to the EU10
  • 2004: Signing of the Bilateral Agreements II (Schengen/Dublin, taxation of savings, combating fraud, processed agricultural products, environment, statistics, MEDIA, pensions)
  • 1999: Signing of the Bilateral Agreements I (free movement of persons, technical barriers to trade, public procurement, agriculture, overland transport, civil aviation, research)
  • 1992: Rejection of the EEA Agreement by the Swiss electorate
  • 1990: Signing of the Agreement on customs facilitation and security
  • 1989: Signing of the Insurance Agreement
  • 1972: Signing of the Free Trade Agreement EFTA-EU