Policy Planning Division

The Policy Planning Division advises and supports the leadership of the foreign ministry in the strategic development of Swiss foreign policy. It carries out groundwork for policymaking, often in cooperation with relevant geographical or thematic divisions of the FDFA’s State Secretariat.

The Division promotes a whole-of-Switzerland approach to foreign policy and fosters dialogue with relevant partners.

The main tasks include ensuring the strategic orientation of Swiss foreign policy and promoting a strategic culture. For example, the division is responsible for formulating the Foreign Policy Strategy (FPS), which the Federal Council adopts for each legislative period. It also supports the formulation of thematic and geographical sub-strategies that are adopted by the Federal Council to flesh out important aspects of the FPS. These sub-strategies form the second level of Switzerland's cascading foreign policy strategy. The third level consists of conceptual implementation documents for the FDFA, such as thematic action plans and guidelines.

This cascading strategy will further strengthen the coherence of Switzerland's foreign policy. Concrete policy goals and measures are defined in the core documents, setting the direction for the coming years. In addition, both the Federal Council and the departments set their own annual objectives. The division coordinates the corresponding policy planning within the FDFA. It is also responsible for the related reporting. This includes the annual Foreign Policy Report, in which the Federal Council gives an account of its activities.

The division also fulfils the role of a planning staff through its work on the analysis and anticipation of international trends and geopolitical developments. It pools existing knowledge within and outside the department and prepares impulse papers and concept studies, often in cooperation with other divisions. It also organises events with the aim of discussing relevant issues across various directorates and providing impetus for innovative solutions. Lastly, the division is responsible for promoting a science- and evidence-based foreign policy.

Going forward, greater use is to be made of relevant skills and networks outside the Federal Administration to achieve foreign policy goals. This basic idea of a whole-of-Switzerland approach, as proposed in Switzerland's 2028 Foreign Policy Vision (AVIS28), also guides policy planning. In particular, the division works together with think tanks and academic institutions and maintains dialogue with all relevant foreign policy actors.

Policy Planning FDFA was created as part of amendments to the Organisation Ordinance for the FDFA 8 (de, fr, it) (Art. 6, para. 5f) in December 2020 and has been operational since April 2021.