Swiss-EU relations: negotiations begin on institutional issues

Bern, Press releases, 22.05.2014

Today in Bern the negotiations on an institutional agreement between Switzerland and the European Union (EU) have begun. With the planned agreement the Federal Council wishes to reconfirm and strengthen the bilateral approach, and so continue to guarantee Switzerland's prosperity and independence.

An institutional agreement will take into account the close bilateral relations between Switzerland and the EU. For the Federal Council the bilateral approach is the best instrument for Switzerland’s European policy to safeguard its interests with regard to the EU – its most important trading partner by far. Since the bilateral approach was adopted it has been enhanced on a number of occasions in order to adapt it to requirements at the time. The people have endorsed the bilateral approach seven times through popular vote, and with the renewal and streamlining of the institutional framework its continuity is ensured for the next generation. The Swiss negotiating delegation will be headed by the director of the Directorate for European Affairs (DEA).

The institutional issues concern the agreements on mutual market access and comprise four points: the further development of agreement-related law, oversight and interpretation of the agreements, and the settlement of disputes. The aim is to ensure that the rules contained within the shared legal area created through bilateral agreements are as uniform as possible and that they can be applied and interpreted in an equally uniform manner.

Coordination and subsequent vote
In negotiating an agreement on institutional issues, the Federal Council is pursuing its strategy of advancing current and future negotiations on various EU policy dossiers as a whole and in a concerted manner, in order to obtain the best possible outcome for Switzerland.
As soon as the negotiations on institutional issues have been completed, the Federal Council will send the results for consultation to the foreign affairs committees, the parties, the cantons and the economic and social partners. Parliament and the people will then have the opportunity to vote on the agreement.

Further information:

Switzerland-EU: Institutional issues
Fact Sheet
FAQ’s (de)

Address for enquiries:

Information FDFA
Bundeshaus West
CH-3003 Bern
Tel.: (+41) 031 322 31 53
Fax: (+41) 031 324 90 47


Federal Department of Foreign Affairs