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Swiss foreign policy: strategies and key aspects

Switzerland implements its foreign policy in a three-tier cascading strategy. The Foreign Policy Strategy for the 2020–23 period sets out the Federal Council's priorities for the current legislative period. The Federal Council has also adopted geographical and thematic follow-up strategies that guide Switzerland's activities in specific priority regions and thematic areas. These follow-up strategies constitute the second tier of the cascading strategy. Finally, at the third stage in the process, the FDFA adopts its own policy documents to implement the various strategies. Further information on the cascading strategy process and other key aspects of foreign policy are available on this webpage.

Cascading strategy

The Federal Council has set out its priorities for the current legislative period in the Foreign Policy Strategy 2020–23 (FPS 2020–23). The strategy is based on the Federal Council's legislative programme, the provisions of the Federal Constitution (in particular Art. 2 and Art. 54) and an assessment of Switzerland's general position. The thematic priorities are peace and security, prosperity, sustainability and digitalisation. The strategy also describes how these priorities are to be implemented in Europe, other regions of the world and at multilateral level.

The Federal Council has adopted a series of geographical and thematic follow-up strategies fleshing out certain aspects of the FPS 2020–23. These follow-up strategies constitute the second stage of the strategy cascading process. Under all these strategies, the Federal Council sets priorities and specifies the applicable policy objectives and measures over a four-year period. 

At the third stage in the process, the FDFA incorporates the objectives and measures in the Federal Council strategies into operational policy documents at department level. With this cascading strategy process, the Federal Council seeks to achieve greater coherence in Swiss foreign policy. 

Three-tier cascade depicting Switzerland's foreign policy strategies.
Switzerland's foreign policy strategy is implemented at three strategy levels. (selection of documents illustrating the three levels) (© FDFA )

Other key documents

In addition to the cascading strategy process, information on other key foreign policy documents is available: Switzerland’s 2028 Foreign Policy Vision (AVIS28) was produced by a high-level working group and serves as an important source of inspiration for shaping Switzerland's foreign policy. The annual foreign policy reports provide further analysis and set out the Federal Council's assessment of foreign policy in the year under review. Information is also available on Swiss neutrality and the involvement of Parliament and the cantons in foreign policy. Important new FDFA operational documents are also provided. Finally, the glossary is intended to achieve consistency in foreign policy terminology. 

Last update 22.03.2022

  • The main lines and priorities of Switzerland's foreign policy for the current legislative period: Foreign Policy Strategy 2020–23.

  • A series of follow-up strategies have been produced setting out the thematic priorities for foreign policy, including the International Cooperation Strategy, the Digital Foreign Policy Strategy and the Strategy for Communication Abroad.

  • A series of follow-up strategies have been produced setting out the geographical priorities for foreign policy, including the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Strategy, the China Strategy and the Sub-Saharan Africa Strategy.

  • The federal departments are responsible for implementing the objectives set out in the strategies. To this end, they can formulate their own implementation documents in the form of guidelines, action plans, etc. The departmental policy documents make up the third tier of the cascading strategy.

  • Switzerland's 2028 Foreign Policy Vision as published by the work group AVIS28. It sets the guidelines of the swiss foreign policy in the next ten years.

  • The Federal Council submits the foreign policy report to Parliament every year to give an account of its foreign policy activities.

  • Permanent neutrality is a principle of Swiss foreign policy. It is a generating source of peace and stability in Europe and beyond.

  • How the Confederation and the cantons work together to shape and implement foreign policy and its legal basis.

  • In addition to the policy documents of the strategy cascade, guiding documents for the FDFA as an organisation and employer are also adopted.

  • Terms and concepts from the Foreign Policy Strategy and thematic and geographical strategies explained.

Contact

Policy Planning Division

Federal Palace West
3003 Bern

Phone

+41 58 481 85 65