The Sectoral Foreign Policies Division (SFPD) supports the Federal Council in linking thematic policy areas with foreign policy. It ensures the coherence of positions and efficient cooperation and coordination between the FDFA and relevant offices in other departments.
Sectoral Foreign Policies Division
The relationship between domestic and foreign policy has changed fundamentally as the economy and society have become increasingly globalised. There is hardly an area of domestic policy that no longer has a strong foreign policy dimension. For some time now, foreign policy has therefore no longer been limited to the cultivation of intergovernmental relations in the traditional sense, but has had to adopt a holistic approach so that Switzerland can safeguard its interests in an optimal manner.
The Sectoral Foreign Policies Division has four sections.
The section is responsible for financial and tax matters within the Directorate of Political Affairs and ensures its foreign policy coordination, in cooperation with the State Secretariat for International Financial Matters (SIF) of the Federal Department of Finance. It is the FDFA's contact point for foreign states on financial matters and plays the role of liaison between the Swiss financial centre and the Swiss representations abroad. The section also actively participates in discussions and negotiations concerning the Swiss financial centre, its integrity and international cooperation in tax matters. Lastly, the section has the role of a political early warning system to identify emerging international opportunities and challenges in the areas of finance and taxation, for example with regard to fintech or sustainable finance.
The section is responsible for economic matters within the Directorate of Political Affairs and also deals with governance matters. It represents Switzerland in the organs of the UN Convention against Corruption and heads the secretariat of the Interdepartmental Working Group on Combating Corruption. It also plays a coordinating role in the promotion of Switzerland as a business location and Swiss exports and, together with Switzerland Global Enterprise (SGE), manages the network of Swiss Business Hubs and the commercial attachés at Swiss representations abroad. It monitors developments concerning foreign and economic policy and participates in discussions on these matters within the Federal Administration and at the international level (e.g. OECD, WEF).
Sustainability, environment, energy and health
The policy areas of sustainability, environment, energy and health are closely interlinked and have a highly international dimension. Challenges in these areas cannot usually be solved at national level, but require international cooperation. Time and again we see that the problems facing us – such as climate change – can only be solved with a global approach.
The policy areas of sustainability, environment, energy and health are therefore central themes for Switzerland, which is a highly interconnected nation. The FDFA identifies the challenges in these areas in a timely manner, makes full use of its scope of action and contributes to finding solutions.
The Sustainability, Environment, Energy and Health Section coordinates and shapes Switzerland's international commitment in these areas, working closely with the Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications and the Federal Department of Home Affairs.
Education, science, transports and space
In view of their economic and societal implications, the fields of education, science, transport and space have acquired a strategic dimension for countries around the world. The Education, Science, Transport and Space Section represents Switzerland in bilateral and multilateral bodies dealing with space and with scientific, polar and transport-related matters. These include the European Laboratory for Particle Physics (CERN), the Arctic Council and the European Space Agency (ESA), as well as the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS).
Sustainability, environment, energy, health, education, science, transports and space