Relations between Switzerland and Austria are close and diverse, which is reflected mainly in the high number of diplomatic visits, in trade between the two nations and in the cultural sphere.
Bilateral relations Switzerland–Austria
Key aspects of diplomatic relations
Switzerland and Austria have traditionally worked closely together in many areas, including services for their citizens living abroad, economic and financial matters, education, research and innovation, and culture. Visits take place frequently and at all levels. Both countries regularly hold talks with Liechtenstein and Germany in the interests of political coordination.
They also work together at the multilateral level, for example at the United Nations, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the Council of Europe. According to the Erstbesuchstradition, the first visit abroad by a new federal president or foreign minister in either Switzerland or Austria is traditionally made to the other country.
In 2015 the volume of trade between the two countries amounted to CHF 15 billion. While in previous years Switzerland had regularly recorded a deficit against Austria, the trade balance in 2015 was practically even. Switzerland is one of the biggest foreign investors in Austria. Total investments by Swiss companies stood at CHF 6.8 billion at the end of 2015. Swiss companies employ around 31,550 people in Austria.
Austrian direct investment in Switzerland has risen sharply since 2000 and at the end of 2015 amounted to CHF 6.8 billion. This corresponds to 10,770 jobs in Switzerland, mainly in industry.
Cooperation in education, research and innovation
Many Swiss professors teach in Austria. Austrian art academies train Swiss artists. In 2015, 1,225 Austrian students were registered in Switzerland.
The State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) awards Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships for scholars and artists from Austria. Foundations and private institutions in Switzerland also award scholarships to Austrian students.
Switzerland is actively engaged in promoting a diverse presence of Swiss artists in all parts of the Austrian cultural scene. The diplomatic representations and cultural institutes of both countries work closely together in that respect. Cultural talks take place regularly at government level. Contacts between Swiss and Austrian artists have invigorated Swiss culture in many areas.
Swiss living in Austria
In 2015 there were 16’028 Swiss nationals living in Austria.
History of bilateral relations
Switzerland officially recognised the Republic of Austria on 2 November 1945. Diplomatic representations were set up in the course of the following two years.
Since the end of the Second World War Switzerland and Austria have enjoyed close and friendly relations. Austria has been a neutral state since 1955. The two countries' paths diverged in 1995, when Austria acceded to the European Union. Nevertheless for Switzerland Austria remains a special partner in Europe.