Switzerland and the EU enjoy close economic, political and social ties. Our relations with the EU and our neighbouring countries are of fundamental importance and Switzerland has made them one of the strategic axes of its foreign policy for 2012-2015. The European Union is the world's largest economic power. To safeguard our interests as a non-member country in the heart of Europe, we must make sure we maintain relations with the EU through the bilateral way, for which the people of Switzerland have confirmed their support in several referendums. To renew the bilateral way, a balance needs to be found between the need for specific solutions to specific problems, for example market access, and an appropriate institutional framework that respects the sovereignty and institutions of both parties.
Adapting to change
We must adapt to change while safeguarding our political room for manoeuvre and our long term economic interests. As a non-member country, Switzerland wants to foster its relations with the EU Member States, which make up our wider neighbourhood. These friendly relations allow us to influence the framework conditions at European level and maintain a good level of understanding and thereby acceptance of Switzerland's unique characteristics. The practice of foreign policy requires constant redefinition of our interests to find balanced solutions with our European partners. These solutions must be the subject of debate and be discussed and accepted by the people. Much is at stake not only for our country, but for each and every one of us.
President of the Federal Council Head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs