Switzerland and Austria share close cultural and economic ties. They also conduct high-level diplomatic visits, allowing for dialogue on trade, political and scientific relations. In addition, a strategic partnership between the two countries was signed by both foreign ministries in 2021.
Bilateral relations Switzerland–Austria
Key aspects of diplomatic relations
Switzerland and Austria have traditionally worked closely together in many areas, including services for their citizens living abroad, economic and financial matters, education, research and innovation, and culture. Visits take place frequently and at all levels. Both countries also hold regular consultations and meetings at all levels with other German-speaking states on matters of common interest.
Because of their status as host states, Switzerland and Austria work closely together at multilateral level as well – such as the UN, Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and Council of Europe. Traditionally, the first visit abroad by a new Swiss foreign minister or president of the Confederation is made to Austria (known as Erstbesuchstradition).
In 2023, Austria is one of Switzerland's top 10 trading partners worldwide. Over the last 5 years, the volume of trade with Austria has averaged CHF 17 billion. In 2022, Austria was Switzerland's 7th largest trading partner.
Switzerland is also one of Austria's biggest foreign investors. At the end of 2022, Swiss direct investment in Austria amounted to CHF 14 billion. Austrian investment in Switzerland had also risen to EUR 13 billion by 2022.
The official contact point for all companies from Switzerland and Liechtenstein with export and trading activities in Austria is the Swiss Business Hub Austria.
Cooperation in education, research and innovation
Austria is a key partner for Switzerland in this area. Cooperation between the two countries is diverse and particularly extensive in the fields of transport, energy, health and future technologies. Since 2018 the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) has supported over 627 projects that included Austrian involvement, putting Austria in 8th place in terms of number of projects by SNSF's 147 partner countries. With around 1,200 students, Austrians form the fifth largest group of foreign students in Switzerland; there are also more than 1,300 Swiss students in Austria.
Switzerland is actively engaged in promoting a wide range of Swiss artists in all parts of the Austrian cultural scene. To this end, the diplomatic representations and cultural institutes of both countries work closely together. An informal bilateral culture dialogue takes place at government level every two years. During these discussions, Switzerland and Austria have agreed to increase cooperation in order to organise cultural events in third countries. An example of this is the successful collaborative project between the Federal Office of Culture/Pro Helvetia and the 61 Austrian libraries abroad, which was agreed in 2013.
Swiss nationals living in Austria
At the end of 2022, there were 17,945 Swiss nationals living in Austria.
History of bilateral relations
Switzerland officially recognised the Republic of Austria on 2 November 1945. Diplomatic representations were set up in the course of the following two years. Since the end of the Second World War Switzerland and Austria have enjoyed particularly close and friendly relations. In 1955, Austria became a neutral state like Switzerland. A member of the EU since 1995, Austria continues to be a privileged partner for Switzerland in the European context. It was the first EU country to ratify the Bilaterals I package of agreements. During its EU presidency in 2006, it also worked towards the conclusion of Bilaterals II.