Institutional and legal issues – autonomous adoption of EU law (acquis)

Switzerland / EU flags
Switzerland / EU flags © FDFA, Presence Switzerland

Switzerland and the EU have concluded around 120 bilateral agreements, 20 of which are considered of central importance, such as the agreement on the free movement of persons. On the one hand, these agreements create wide-ranging mutual access to markets; on the other, they provide the basis for close cooperation in important policy areas such as research, security, environment and culture. The agreements governing market access are as a rule based on existing EU law in which Switzerland has undertaken to enact equivalent provisions or to adopt existing EU law. The five existing market access agreements are: free movement of persons, civil aviation, overland transport, agriculture and technical barriers to trade (TBT).

Institutional issues concern the following four areas:

  • Legal developments: What procedures should be employed to adjust agreements to new legal developments in the EU «Acquis» that concern them?
  • Supervision: How can a consistent supervision of the application of the bilateral agreements be ensured?
  • Interpretation: How can the consistent interpretation of the bilateral agreements be ensured?
  • Dispute settlement: What procedures should be used to settle disputes between Switzerland and the EU, and what body should be vested with decision-making powers in disputes between the two parties?

The goal of the institutional agreement is to create a framework that allows a more homogenous and efficient implementation of existing and future market access agreements. The Federal Council adopted a negotiating mandate on 18 December 2013; the Council of the EU adopted its mandate on 6 May 2014. Since the beginning of the negotiations in 2014 until end of December 2018, around 30 rounds of negotiations between Switzerland and the EU have taken place. The objective of the agreement is to guarantee legal security in the area of market access and to preserve Switzerland’s independence and legal order.




07.06.2019  Press conference on Swiss-EU relations: the institutional agreement

Letter from the Federal Council to the President of the European Commission (PDF, 150.7 kB, French)

Report on the consultations on the institutional agreement between Switzerland and the European Union (PDF, 791.3 kB, German)

Written opinions of the institutions and organisations consulted

Replies from the Federal Council to questions about the Swiss-EU institutional agreement raised during the consultations (PDF, 1.1 MB, German)

Consultations  Institutional agreement Switzerland – EU

Media release of Federal Council, 16.1.2019

Public hearing of the foreign affairs committee of the National Council, 15.1.2019


07.12.2018 Press conference on Swiss-EU relations: the institutional agreement

17.12.2018 Interview of State Secretary Robeto Balzaretti, Head of the Directorate for European Affairs (it)


Media releases on matters concerning European policy