Switzerland and the Kingdom of Spain maintain good relations and political contacts in many areas at the highest level. There is an intensive political, economic and cultural exchange between the two countries.
Bilateral relations Switzerland–Spain
Key aspects of diplomatic relations
Switzerland and Spain work closely together on development cooperation and consular services.
Both countries promote human rights at the multilateral level, e.g. in efforts to reform the United Nations and in the UN Human Rights Council.
Both Switzerland and Spain were the joint founders of an international commission against the death penalty which includes a number of independent experts. The commission is based in Geneva and is a reflection of the excellent relations between the two countries.
Switzerland and Spain have traditionally maintained close economic ties. Their volume of trade amounted to approximately CHF 10.6 billion in 2016. Switzerland regularly runs a trade surplus with Spain, albeit one that – along with exports – has been continuously decreasing in recent years. The principal categories of goods traded are pharmaceutical and chemical products, precious metals and jewellery, and machinery and vehicles.
Cooperation in education, research and innovation
Switzerland is working to raise awareness of its dual vocational and professional education and training system among the competent Spanish authorities. It organises conferences and seminars in Spain and invites Spanish experts to Switzerland to introduce the Swiss dual system to them.
Researchers and artists from Spain can apply for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships to the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI).
Cultural cooperation between Spain and Switzerland is well established in all areas. The embassy organises cultural events throughout Spain and supports the efforts of the honorary consulates to hold such events.
Swiss nationals in Spain
According to the Statistics on the Swiss Abroad, 25,168 Swiss nationals were living in Spain at the end of 2016.
History of bilateral relations
Relations between the two countries have a long tradition. As long ago as the late Middle Ages, Spain – then a great power – maintained a legation in Switzerland, while Swiss trading houses had a presence in Spain.
In 1846, Switzerland opened a trade consulate for Spain in Barcelona, which has been Switzerland's consulate general since 1958. This was followed in 1861 by an honorary consulate in Madrid, which was upgraded to a legation in 1910 and an embassy in 1957.
In 1869, Switzerland and Spain concluded their first trade agreement. During the First World War, Spain was Switzerland’s principal food supplier. Relations became closer with Spain's transition to a parliamentary monarchy after the death of Franco in 1975, and with its accession to the EU in 1986.
In 1979, King Juan Carlos I made a state visit to Switzerland. Official visits by then Swiss President Micheline Calmy-Rey to Spain in 2007 and in February 2011 were followed by the second state visit by King Juan Carlos I and Queen Sofia to Switzerland in May 2011. In 2015, the then President of the Swiss Confederation, Simonetta Sommaruga, paid a visit to King Felipe VI and Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.