You are here:
It is essential for Switzerland to pursue an active European policy in order to maintain its close ties with its European neighbours. It maintains its relations with the European Union through bilateral agreements, which contractually regulate co-operation in clearly defined sectors. This solution enables Switzerland to pursue a policy of openness and co-operation with its European neighbours. The Swiss electorate has confirmed its approval of this bilateral solution on a number of occasions.
The number of bilateral agreements has been constantly expanded since the free trade agreement of 1972, and this has resulted in the conclusion of two major contractual packages (bilateral agreements I and II in 1999 and 2004 respectively). These agreements secure mutual access to most markets, and form the basis for close co-operation in the areas of research, security, asylum, environmental protection and culture.
In view of their political and economic importance, and as a result of their geographical and cultural proximity, the EU and its 27 member states are Switzerland’s most important partners. Every third Swiss franc Switzerland earns comes from the EU, and our country is among the latter’s four most important trading partners along with the USA, China and Russia. Around 420,000 Swiss nationals currently live in the EU, while some 1.1m EU citizens reside in Switzerland.