The high importance that Switzerland attaches to policy on its neighbours was clearly reflected in the high intensity of diplomatic visits during the reporting year. These were focused on actively addressing open questions and finding constructive solutions in particular in the areas of fiscal policy and transport. In addition to cooperation in a series of bilateral fields, Switzerland is also working closely with its neighbours on a number of multilateral issues. In this context, cross-border regional cooperation is especially important, an area where the Confederation collaborates with the cantons with international borders.
Furthermore, for Switzerland as a country in middle of Europe, its relations with the EU are of fundamental importance. In the reporting year, these were again intensive and on the whole good, although at times marked by controversies for instance in tax policy, institutional questions and the invocation of the safeguard clause with regard to the free movement of persons. Negotiations were pursued for instance in the fields of public health, electricity and trade in CO2 emissions. Possibilities of strengthened trade and closer cooperation with European states were discussed at the bilateral level.
Switzerland’s commitment to stability in Europe and beyond remains another focal point of Swiss foreign policy. In the reporting year, an important milestone in this context was the final confirmation that Switzerland would take over the chairmanship of the OSCE in 2014. Approval by Parliament of the Federal Council’s Dispatch to Parliament on international cooperation in the period 2013 to 2016 was another major event, and the Federal Decree on the continuation of measures to promote peace and human security in the period 2012–2016 came into effect. With regard to global financial and tax questions, in 2012, Switzerland further pursued its strategy on strengthening the integrity and international acceptance of its financial centre. Finally, Switzerland invested much time and effort into the international processes on achieving a green economy in particular in the framework of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20).
At the global level, in the reporting year, Switzerland expanded and intensified bilateral relations with its strategic partners in Asia, on the American continent, in the Middle East and in Africa. It also celebrated the 10th anniversary of its accession to the United Nations. Switzerland is pursuing its commitment to reform at the United Nations, in particular of the Security Council. Furthermore, it is calling for improved international security, one of the other priorities of the United Nations for the coming decade. Switzerland’s approval of the Algiers Memorandum, which aims to strengthen the fight against international terrorism and hostage taking, is one example of its own efforts in this regard. In addition, the 2012 Foreign Policy Report sets out the contributions Swiss foreign policy has made to solutions in the fields of education, research and innovation, environment, transport, energy and health.
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