Switzerland and Romania maintain very good relations on friendly terms. The two countries engage actively in political dialogue, trade and cultural exchanges. Switzerland and Romania are currently working together to implement the second Swiss contribution. As part of this partnership, various projects are being developed, for example in the areas of energy efficiency and dual education.
Bilateral relations Switzerland–Romania
Key aspects of diplomatic relations
Switzerland and Romania maintain good diplomatic relations. Bilateral contact has intensified in recent years. Romanian President Klaus Werner Iohannis visited Switzerland in September 2021, for example, after he had received President of the Swiss Confederation Alain Berset for a state visit to Romania in early November 2018.
Since the fall of the communist regime, Switzerland has supported the development and consolidation of democracy, the rule of law and a functioning market economy. Since 2009, one of the focal points of bilateral relations has been close cooperation within the framework of the first and second Swiss contributions.
Switzerland and Romania have entered into double taxation and investment promotion and protection agreements. Since Romania acceded to the EU, the bilateral agreements between Switzerland and the EU have also applied to Romania.
Romania and Switzerland have excellent trade relations.
Romania is Switzerland's most important trading partner in south-eastern Europe. In 2020, Switzerland was the seventh largest foreign investor in Romania, with Swiss investments totalling EUR 4.6 billion. The trade volume between Switzerland and Romania has grown steadily over the past few years, and amounted to around CHF 2.4 billion in 2021.
Romania is becoming increasingly appealing as a business location for Swiss investors.
Cooperation in education, research and innovation
Through the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI), Switzerland supports the New European College in Bucharest, an independent institute for advanced studies in social sciences and the humanities.
Researchers and artists who are citizens of Romania can apply to the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships. A trainee exchange agreement enables young people from Romania to acquire additional professional experience and hone their language skills in Switzerland.
Cooperation in the areas of education, research and innovation is also part of the Swiss contribution.
Peacebuilding and human security
Police and judicial cooperation is a key component of bilateral relations: in 2007 Romania and Switzerland entered into a cooperation agreement on tackling terrorism and organised crime. A working group on taking action against human trafficking was established in January 2012, comprising representatives from both countries.
The Swiss contribution
Romania was one of the countries that received support within the framework of the first Swiss contribution and is now receiving support through the second one. The first contribution (enlargement contribution) to Romania amounted to CHF 181 million. With it, Switzerland contributed to the successful implementation of 17 projects and seven thematic funds by 2019. The majority of the projects' objectives initially set were achieved and in some projects even exceeded.
The thematic funds focusing on security, civil society, partnerships, the integration of Roma communities, health, and research and scholarships were managed by Swiss institutions.
Romania is also one of the recipients of the second Swiss contribution (cohesion contribution), receiving the second largest contribution (CHF 221.5 million) after Poland. The second Swiss contribution was approved by the Swiss parliament on 3 December 2019 and released on 30 September 2021. On 30 June 2022, Switzerland and the EU signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in Brussels that sets out the contribution's key elements, such as its amount, distribution among the partner countries, thematic priorities, principles for cooperation, and implementation.
The second Swiss contribution provides for continued engagement in the areas in which the first contribution was deployed in Romania. These areas include dual education, energy efficiency, research and innovation, public safety, health, and civil society.
Swiss nationals in Romania
According to statistics on the Swiss abroad there were 599 Swiss citizens living in Romania at the end of 2021.
Cultural relations between Switzerland and Romania have developed in recent years, deepening and becoming more diverse. The Swiss embassy, Pro Helvetia and Presence Switzerland are the main motors driving the promotion of Swiss culture in Romania.
The Swiss embassy has continuously supported culture during the COVID-19 pandemic and the war against Ukraine, adapting its cultural events and programmes to the shifting situation. Thanks in particular to the Swiss Sponsors' Fund, a joint project of the Swiss embassy and the Swiss-Romanian Chamber of Commerce, support can be provided to cultural projects. Since 2020, the Swiss embassy and Pro Helvetia have supported over 50 projects in Romania in the areas of literature, music, theatre and the performing arts, cinema, architecture, and cybersecurity education.
History of bilateral relations
Official relations between Romania and Switzerland were established once Romania declared its independence, which was recognised by Switzerland on 10 June 1880. The two countries signed a trade agreement, prompting many Swiss companies to set up business in Romania in the 19th century.
The Romanian consulate in Bern, which opened in 1905, was converted into a legation in 1911. The Federal Council opened the Swiss legation in Bucharest in 1916. Clearing agreements were signed in the 1930s which benefited Swiss imports.
Relations between Switzerland and Romania cooled during the communist period. In 1955 they were plunged into crisis when Romanian exiles attempted to seize the Romanian embassy in Bern. The incident provoked a press campaign against Switzerland and resulted in tighter travel rules for Romanians entering Switzerland. In 1962, the Swiss legation was upgraded to an embassy.
Swiss–Romanian relations were revived following the events of December 1989 and the end of the Cold War.