The United Kingdom's exit from the European Union (Brexit) and the Federal Council's 'Mind the gap' strategy

Brexit
© European Commission

The United Kingdom (UK) left the European Union (EU) on 31 January 2020. The UK’s withdrawal marks the beginning of a transition period until 31 December 2020 – subject to a possible exten­sion – during which the bilateral agreements between Switzerland and the EU will continue to apply to the UK. A new set of bilateral agreements between Switzerland and the UK will apply thereafter.

Switzerland is closely following the negotiations between the EU and the UK. The UK is an important economic, political and migration partner for Switzerland. Relations between the two countries are currently based largely on the bilateral agreements between Switzerland and the EU. This legal basis for Swiss-British relations will no longer be applicable to the UK after the end of the transition period. As part of its 'Mind the gap' strategy, Switzerland concluded at an early stage a series of new agreements with the UK in the areas of trade, migration, road and air transport and insurance. The aim of the 'Mind the gap' strategy is to safeguard existing mutual rights and obligations as far as possible. In a second step, cooperation between Switzerland and the UK is to be expanded beyond the current level where this is in the interests of both sides ('Mind the Gap plus'). 

Chronology

  • 31.12.2020 Expected end of the transition period
  • 31.01.2020 UK withdrawal from the EU
  • 31.10.2019 Signing of a provisional agreement on the coordination of social security schemes
  • 10.07.2019 Signing of a provisional agreement on mutual access to the labour market and a me morandum of understanding on police cooperation
  • 25.2.2019 Signing of the citizens’ rights agreement
  • 11.2.2019 Signing of the trade agreement
  • 25.1.2019 Signing of the insurance agreement and the overland transport agreement
  • 17.12.2018 Signing of the air transport agreement
  • 29.03.2017 Initiation by the UK of the withdrawal process from the EU under Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union (date originally set for withdrawal: 29.03.2019)
  • 19.10.2016 Adoption of ‘Mind the gap’ strategy by the Federal Council
  • 23.06.2016 UK’s referendum on withdrawal from the EU (leave: 51.9%)