The Treaty of Lisbon, in force since 1 December 2009, significantly strengthened the powers and responsibilities of the European Parliament, making it an essential part of the institutional and political landscape of Europe. Its increased influence also has an impact on relations with countries that are not members of the EU, including Switzerland, which therefore need to be more present and more actively involved in this institution.
The Swiss Mission monitors the work of the European Parliament, in particular the plenary sessions that take place in Brussels and Strasbourg. The Mission pays particular attention to the institutional dynamics of the EU and to its implications for the decision-making processes of the EU and its relations with non-EU states, in particular Switzerland. One of the main aims is to monitor developments in legislation that are relevant to Switzerland. To this end, Switzerland’s Mission to the EU develops and fosters contacts and networks within the European Parliament. Contacts are not only made among MEPs but also among political groups, the administration and staffers (MEPs’ assistants). The European Parliament has around 750 MEPs. The next elections will take place in 2019.
Delegation for relations with Switzerland
The European Parliament conducts dialogue with countries outside of the EU through delegations. One delegation is in charge of relations with Switzerland, Iceland, Norway and the European Economic Area. The Swiss Parliament also has a delegation that deals with relations with EFTA and the European Parliament. These two institutional bodies are responsible for official contact between the parliaments and hold regular meetings which take place alternately in Switzerland and Brussels.
Cooperation with the European Parliament has developed extremely well in recent years, particularly through:
- working group sessions;
- meetings between the presidents of the Swiss and European Parliaments;
- study visits of the respective parliamentary committees;
- meetings and exchanges on topical issues and shared concerns.