Neighbouring states

Switzerland maintains extremely important relations with its direct neighbours, particularly around its border regions.
Switzerland maintains extremely important relations with its direct neighbours, particularly around its border regions. © iStock

Switzerland has close economic, social and cultural ties with its neighbours, in particular with the regions directly on its borders. Maintaining relations with these regions and states is therefore of great importance in terms of foreign policy. The settlement of any unresolved issues and the search for constructive solutions is weighted accordingly by all parties involved.

Switzerland and its neighbours are closely interdependent, with ties based on shared political, linguistic, economic and cultural characteristics and interests. Some two thirds of EU citizens residing in Switzerland are from neighbouring states. Germany, France, Italy and Austria account for almost 70% of all Switzerland's trade with the EU. These four large neighbouring states are also important members of the EU. This means Switzerland has a strong interest in fostering permanent dialogue with them on its relations with the EU. Moreover, France, Germany and Italy are members of the G7, while France also has a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.Transport, finance, taxation and energy are the main focuses for cooperation with neighbouring states. 

Cooperation is also close in consular matters and in research and innovation. Cooperation in the Alpine region is another important aspect of relations with neighbouring states. Furthermore, Switzerland works closely at the multilateral level with its neighbours. This applies especially to areas in which Switzerland and its neighbours have similar positions and priorities, including human rights, democracy and humanitarian affairs. Switzerland holds regular political consultations with neighbouring states to exchange ideas on current international issues.

Part of the economic powerhouse of Europe

Switzerland's ties with regions directly bordering it are especially strong. This can be seen in particular in its trade relations with Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria and Lombardy, for example. The volume of trade between Switzerland and the regions directly on its borders amounts to almost CHF 90 billion annually, which is half of Switzerland's total trade in goods with neighbouring states. By comparison, Switzerland's annual trade in goods with the United States amounts to CHF 60 billion, while trade with Brazil, India, China and South Africa combined totals CHF 74 billion. Southern Germany and northern Italy are two of the most competitive regions in Europe, and both share a direct border with Switzerland. Excellent relations with these regions contribute greatly to Switzerland's economic success.