The EU is Switzerland’s most important partner by far. This is due not only to the European Union’s (EU) political and economic weight, but also to Switzerland’s close geographical and cultural proximity to the countries of the EU. Switzerland earns one franc out of three in its exchanges with the EU. Some 60% of Swiss exports go to the EU, and 80% of its imports come from there. Switzerland is not an EU Member State. Instead, it conducts its relations with the EU on the basis of bilateral sector agreements, which have been approved by the people of Switzerland through a series of referendums. More than 120 agreements, including 20 very important treaties, govern specific aspects of our relations with the EU. These agreements provide both parties with extensive market access and form the basis for close cooperation in other fields. The Federal Council considers the bilateral way the most suitable for Switzerland at this point in time.
The Europe Division is the centre of expertise for the Confederation's EU policy. It analyses EU integration policy and its impact on Switzerland. It coordinates the EU policy of the Federal Council in cooperation with relevant offices and provides information about Swiss EU policy and European integration in general.
The division defines the foreign policy guidelines for Switzerland’s relations with its neighbours and all other Western and Central European states. In implementing Switzerland’s policy on relations with its neighbours, it also takes into account various aspects of cross-border relations and supports, among other things, the cantons in the area of cross-border cooperation.
Bilateral agreements between Switzerland and the EU