Foreign and security policy – a targeted partnership

Flags of various states and international organisations
Flags of various states and international organisations © FDFA, Presence Switzerland

Switzerland and the European Union conduct a close dialogue on their shared foreign policy concerns. The EU has shown interest in Switzerland’s constructive approach to foreign policy. Switzerland also makes substantial contributions through its participation in the EU’s peace promotion missions.

The two parties pursue very similar foreign policy objectives: both aim to safeguard their independence and both promote the peaceful co-existence of nations, human rights, democracy and the rule of law, the alleviation of poverty and the preservation of the environment. For this reason, Switzerland and the EU foster a close and substantive dialogue, working in partnership to achieve their objectives on important issues such as in the context of the European neighbourhood, regions further afield, or in multilateral forums.

Swiss participation in EU peace promotion missions

In addition to the foreign policy dialogue, Switzerland safeguards its interests in partner-like and concrete ways through its participation in the EU’s civilian and military peace promotion missions in the framework of the EU’s common security and defence policy. Swiss civilian experts participate in the EU rule of law mission, EULEX Kosovo, and members of the Swiss Armed Forces have been seconded to Operation EUFOR Althea in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Switzerland also participated, in a civilian capacity, in the mission of military education in Mali (EUTM Mali). Further possibilities for participation in EU missions are being studied on an ongoing basis. In addition, Switzerland regularly places personnel at the EU’s disposal for EU election observer missions throughout the world.

European Defence Agency

In 2012, Switzerland and the European Defence Agency (EDA) signed a framework in the field of armaments cooperation (‘Framework for Cooperation’). The framework, which is not legally binding, sets out the conditions for cooperation with the EDA. It enables Switzerland to detect armaments policy developments at an early stage and to have access to multilateral armaments cooperation in Europe, primarily in the areas of research and development, as well as procurement and maintenance of armaments. Switzerland remains free to decide what information it wants to exchange within the scope of this framework, and in what projects and programmes it wishes to participate. The first project in collaboration with the EDA was approved by the Swiss Federal Council in April 2017. This project enables research collaboration in the areas of protection of  autonomous systems (for example drones).