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 surrounded almost entirely by member states of the European Union (EU). 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 a concerted, target-oriented policy with regard to the country’s interests in the EU is essential for Switzerland’s prosperity.

Map "Europe today"

Switzerland is not a member state of the EU; instead, it conducts its relations with the EU on the basis of bilateral sectoral agreements. Since the Free Trade Agreement of 1972, an increasingly dense network of agreements has been developed in several stages. The bilateral approach allows Switzerland to pursue tailor-made policies with regard to its European neighbours. The approach has been endorsed by the Swiss electorate in various referendums. Strengthening and further developing this bilateral approach and the possible conclusion of new market access agreements with the EU is vital for Switzerland. To develop the bilateral approach in this way, clarification of the institutional rules will be necessary. The Federal Council is therefore pursuing negotiations with the EU on such rules.

Chronology

  • 2017: Full association of Switzerland in «Horizon 2020»
  • 2016: Decision by Parliament on the implementation of Art. 121a Cst
  • 2016: Signing of Protocol III extending the free movement of persons to Croatia
  • 2015: Signing of the Agreement on the Automatic Exchange of Information in Tax Matters
  • 2014: Signing of the EASO participation agreement (European Asylum Support Office)
  • 2014: Adoption of the federal popular initiative «Stop Mass Immigration»
  • 2013: Adoption by the Federal Council of a mandate to negotiate an agreement on institutional matters
  • 2013: Signing of the Satellite Navigation Cooperation Agreement
  • 2013: Signing of the Agreement on Competition
  • 2012: Signing of the Agreement on the European Defence Agency
  • 2010: Signing of the Agreement on Education, Training and Youth
  • 2009: Continuation of the free movement of persons and extension to Romania and Bulgaria
  • 2008: Signing of the agreement with Eurojust
  • 2006: Adoption by the Swiss electorate of the Federal Act on Cooperation with the Countries of Eastern Europe
  • 2005: Extension of the free movement of persons to the EU10
  • 2004: Signing of the agreement with Europol
  • 2004: Signing of Bilaterals II (Schengen/Dublin, taxation of savings income, combating fraud, processed agricultural products, environment, statistics, MEDIA programme, pensions)
  • 1999: Signing of Bilaterals I (free movement of persons, technical barriers to trade, public procurement, agriculture, overland transport, civil aviation, research)
  • 1992: Rejection of EEA membership by the Swiss electorate
  • 1990: Signing of the Agreement on Customs Facilitation and Security
  • 1989: Signing of the Insurance Agreement
  • 1972: Signing of the EFTA–EU Free Trade Agreement