Switzerland is located in the heart of Europe and is surrounded almost entirely by member states of the European Union (EU). In view of its geographic and cultural proximity and particularly due to its political and economic importance, the EU with its 27 member states is by far Switzerland’s most important partner. In view of its close and wide-ranging ties with the EU, Switzerland has adopted an approach based on an array of bilateral agreements in clearly defined areas: the bilateral approach.
Overview bilateral path
However, Switzerland is also a first-rate partner for the EU. A concerted and targeted policy of interests towards the EU is therefore of crucial importance for Switzerland's prosperity.
Switzerland's European policy goal is to create the best possible conditions for its relations with the EU. Since Switzerland is not an EU member state, it pursues its European policy on the basis of bilateral sectoral agreements. With this in mind, the bilateral treaty framework between Switzerland and the EU (or its predecessors) has been continuously developed and deepened over the decades.
Since the Free Trade Agreement of 1972, an increasingly dense network of around 20 main agreements and a large number of other treaties has been established in several stages. The people have confirmed and supported the so-called bilateral approach in various referenda. The strengthening and further development of the bilateral path, which also includes the possible conclusion of new market access agreements with the EU, is of central importance for Switzerland.
The step-by-step, pragmatic approach allows for tailor-made, contractual solutions for a broad range of economic and political issues. On the one hand, the agreements create extensive mutual market access. On the other hand, they are the basis for close cooperation in important political areas. The bilateral approach thus enables a policy of openness and close cooperation with European neighbours.
- Start of exploratory talks with the EU on the Federal Council’s proposal for a new negotiation package (press release of 25 February 2022)
- Termination of negotiations on an institutional agreement; it will not be concluded
- Signing of the Agreement on the participation in the area of police cooperation (Prüm Decision)
- Signing of the Agreement between Switzerland and the EU on the linking of their emissions trading systems
- Full association of Switzerland in «Horizon 2020»
- Decision by Parliament on the implementation of Art. 121a Cst
- Signing of Protocol III extending the free movement of persons to Croatia
- Signing of the Agreement on the Automatic Exchange of Information in Tax Matters
- Signing of the EASO participation Agreement (European Asylum Support Office)
- Adoption of the federal popular initiative «Stop Mass Immigration»
- Adoption by the Federal Council of a mandate to negotiate an agreement on institutional matters
- Signing of the Satellite Navigation Cooperation Agreement
- Signing of the Agreement on Competition
- Signing of the Agreement on the European Defence Agency
- Signing of the Agreement on Education, Training and Youth
- Continuation of the free movement of persons and extension to Romania and Bulgaria
- Signing of the Agreement with Eurojust
- Adoption by the Swiss electorate of the Federal Act on Cooperation with the Countries of Eastern Europe
- Extension of the free movement of persons to the EU10
- Signing of the Agreement with Europol
- Signing of Bilaterals II (Schengen/Dublin, taxation of savings income, combating fraud, processed agricultural products, environment, statistics, MEDIA programme, pensions)
- Signing of Bilaterals I (free movement of persons, technical barriers to trade, public procurement, agriculture, overland transport, civil aviation, research)
- Rejection of EEA membership by the Swiss electorate
- Signing of the Agreement on Customs Facilitation and Security
- Signing of the Insurance Agreement
- Signing of the Switzerland–EU Free Trade Agreement
Withdrawal of Switzerland’s membership application for the EU