Switzerland and France maintain close, vibrant bilateral relations, particularly in the border areas. The two countries share a language and human, political, economic and cultural ties. They maintain close and regular contacts at all levels.
Bilateral relations Switzerland–France
Key aspects of diplomatic relations
France, as a neighbouring country and founding member of the European Union (EU), is a priority partner of Swiss foreign policy. Relations between the two countries are governed by numerous bilateral treaties and by the agreements concluded between Switzerland and the EU.
Switzerland and France share a border of almost 600km in length. Cross-border exchanges are very intensive, especially in the Geneva conurbation, the Lake Geneva and Mont-Blanc regions, the Upper Rhine and along the Jura Arc region. More than 220,000 people cross the Swiss-French border every day to work in Switzerland.
Bilateral cooperation focuses in particular on economic matters, cooperation in research and innovation, and infrastructure projects.
France and Switzerland also conduct regular exchanges on current international issues and on cooperation in multilateral bodies.
France is Switzerland's fifth most important trading partner after Germany, the United States, the United Kingdom, Italy and China. In 2022, the volume of trade amounted to CHF 36.2 billion with an almost equal balance of trade between the two countries. Switzerland is France's third top foreign investor after the US and Germany, with investments amounting to EUR 107 billion. According to the French authorities, Switzerland is the country's leading creator of jobs in its manufacturing sector.
French investments in Switzerland amount to CHF 48.2 billion, making it Switzerland's fourth largest foreign investor. There are more than 1,300 Swiss companies in France, which together employ around 300,000 people. In Switzerland, there are 1,500 French companies, employing around 71,000 people. More than 220,000 French citizens commute across the Swiss–French border for work.
Cooperation in education, research and innovation
Switzerland and France maintain close relations in the areas of education and research. Regular meetings are organised between the Swiss State Secretariat for Education Research and Innovation (SERI) and the French Ministry of National Education, Higher Education and Research. The two countries cooperate closely within several programmes and organisations at the European level, such as CERN and the European Space Agency (ESA). Thanks to their joint efforts at the ESA, in 2019 the CHEOPS telescope satellite mission to determine the size, composition and atmospheric properties of extrasolar planets was launched.
Cultural exchanges between Switzerland and France are long-standing, rich and diverse. For more than 30 years, Pro Helvetia has financed the 'Centre culturel suisse' in Paris, which is mandated to promote and disseminate contemporary Swiss arts and culture. The Swiss Embassy in Paris and the Consulates General of Lyon, Marseille and Strasbourg facilitate and support communication around Swiss cultural events, which feature in the programmes of numerous French partner institutions. Swiss and French government stakeholders with a mandate in arts and culture meet regularly.
Swiss nationals in France
In 2022, over 200,000 Swiss nationals were registered with the Swiss embassy and consulates-general in France. Swiss nationals in France form the largest Swiss community abroad. Some 185,000 French citizens have their permanent residence in Switzerland.
History of bilateral relations
In 1798 Switzerland opened its first diplomatic representation abroad, in Paris. Soon after, a Swiss consulate opened in Bordeaux. At the end of the 19th century, France was the only nation with a diplomatic representation in Bern.