Swiss foreign policy: strategies and key aspects

Switzerland implements its foreign policy strategy in a three-level cascading process. The Foreign Policy Strategy 2020–23 sets out the main lines and priorities. Geographic and thematic strategies guide Switzerland's activities in various priority regions and subject areas. Each strategy is approved by the Federal Council.

The Foreign Policy Strategy 2020–23 (FPS 20–23) sets out the Federal Council's priorities for the current legislative period. The thematic priorities are peace and security, prosperity, sustainability and digitalisation. The strategy also describes how these priorities are to be implemented in Europe, other regions of the world and at multilateral level, and, for the first time, also lays down specific objectives.

The Federal Council has fleshed out certain areas of the FPS 2020–23 in a series of geographical and thematic follow-up strategies, which it also intends to adopt. These follow-up strategies constitute the second stage of a strategy cascading process. At the third stage in the process, the departments will ultimately develop approaches to implementing the Federal Council's strategies at operational level. With this strategy cascading process, the Federal Council seeks to achieve greater coherence in Swiss foreign policy. 

Three-tier cascade depicting Switzerland's foreign policy strategies.
Switzerland's foreign policy strategy is implemented at three strategy levels. (selection of documents illustrating the three levels) © FDFA

Foreign policy strategy

The main lines and priorities of Switzerland's foreign policy for the current legislative period: Foreign Policy Strategy 2020–23.

Geographical strategies

Switzerland's Foreign Policy Strategy feeds into several strategies which adopt a geographical approach for the 2021-24 period: the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Strategy, the China Strategy and the Sub-Saharan Africa Strategy.

Thematic strategies

Switzerland's Foreign Policy Strategy feeds into several strategies which adopt a thematic approach for the 2021-24 period: the International Cooperation Strategy, the Digital Foreign Policy Strategy and the Strategy for Communication Abroad.

FDFA implementation documents

The departments are responsible for implementing the objectives set out in the strategies. To this end, they can formulate their own implementation documents in the form of guidelines, action plans, etc. These form the third level of the cascading process.