Switzerland and Germany have diverse, close relations and are closely linked by a common language and a lively economic, cultural and human exchange.
Bilateral relations Switzerland – Germany
Key aspects of diplomatic relations
Political relations between Switzerland and Germany have traditionally been good. They are based on a comprehensive set of over 200 agreements. Numerous bilateral meetings are held each year between ministers and high-ranking officials. They are supplemented with meetings between the presidents and relevant ministries of German-speaking states. In addition, Switzerland and Germany regularly exchange views on current international issues and cooperation in multilateral bodies. Since 2003, there has also been contact at the institutional level between the Swiss Federal Assembly and the German Bundestag.
Germany is Switzerland's most important trading partner. In 2017, Switzerland exported goods worth CHF 44.7 billion to Germany. Imports amounted to CHF 54.5 billion in the same period, giving a total trade volume of CHF 99.2 billion. Switzerland and Germany are mutually important investors. Total Swiss direct investments in Germany at the end of 2016 amounted to CHF 39.1 billion. Swiss companies employ around 260,000 people in Germany. German direct investments in Switzerland at the end of 2016 totalled CHF 31.5 billion. German companies employ around 121,000 people in Switzerland.
Cooperation in education, research and innovation
Germany is Switzerland's most important partner in education, research and innovation.Regular meetings are held at government level and working meetings at a technical level. Alongside EU research and education programmes, there are numerous bilateral cooperation and exchange programmes. The State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) awards Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships for scholars and artists from Germany.
The close cultural relations between the two countries have a long tradition and are based on their shared language. Exchanges between Swiss artists and representatives of German cultural world take place on a significant scale and have led to fruitful artistic activity in all parts of the country. Presence Switzerland promotes various projects in Germany.
Swiss nationals in Germany
At the end of 2016, there were just under 90,000 Swiss citizens living in Germany. German nationals constitute the second largest foreign community in Switzerland after the Italian community (around 300,000 people in 2016).
History of bilateral relations
In 1867 the Federal Council decided to establish a diplomatic mission in Berlin. In 1919 Switzerland acquired the building which today is home to the Swiss embassy. After the end of the Second World War, Switzerland established diplomatic relations with the Federal Republic of Germany in 1951. With the policy of détente under German chancellor Willy Brandt, Switzerland recognised the German Democratic Republic as a sovereign state in 1972. After German reunification, the Swiss embassy remained in Bonn until 1999. In 2001 Switzerland opened its embassy in Berlin and moved to the restored premises of the previous Swiss legation.