Switzerland–European Union relations
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Relations between Switzerland and the European Union (EU) are framed by a series of bilateral treaties whereby the Swiss Confederation has adopted various provisions of European Union law in order to participate in the Union's single market.
The European Union is Switzerland's largest trading partner, and Switzerland is the EU's fourth largest. Switzerland accounts for 5.2% of the EU's imports; mainly chemicals, medicinal products, machinery, instruments and time pieces. In terms of services, the EU's exports to Switzerland amounted to €67.0 billion in 2008 while imports from Switzerland stood at €47.2 billion.
Switzerland is a member of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). It took part in negotiating the European Economic Area (EEA) agreement with the European Union. It signed the agreement on 2 May 1992, and submitted an application for accession to the EU on 20 May 1992. However, a Swiss referendum held on 6 December 1992 rejected EEA membership by 50.3%. As a consequence, the Swiss government decided to suspend negotiations for EU membership until further notice. Its application remains open.
In 1994, Switzerland and the EU started negotiations about a special relationship outside the EEA or full membership framework. Switzerland wanted to safeguard the economic integration with the EU that the EEA treaty would have permitted, while purging the relationship of the points of contention that had led to the people rejecting the referendum. Swiss politicians stressed the bilateral nature of these negotiations, where negotiations were conducted between two equal partners and not between 16 or 28, as is the case for EU treaty negotiations.
These negotiations resulted in a total of ten treaties, negotiated in two phases, the sum of which makes a large share of EU law applicable to Switzerland. The treaties are:
- First treaty
- Free movement of people
- Air traffic
- Road traffic
- Technical trade barriers
- Public procurement
- Later treaties
- Security and asylum/Schengen membership
- Cooperation in fraud pursuits
- Final stipulations in open questions about agriculture, environment, media, education, care of the elderly, statistics and services.
The bilateral approach, as it is called in Switzerland, was consistently supported by the people in various referenda. It allows the Swiss to keep a sense of sovereignty, due to arrangements when changes in EU law will only apply after a joint bilateral commission decides so in consensus.
The commission can never discuss or change contents, i.e. unlike full EU members, Switzerland has no influence over the contents of EU law that will apply. And while the bilateral approach officially safeguards the right to refuse application of new EU law to Switzerland, in practice this right is severely restricted by the so-called Guillotine Clause, giving both parties a right to cancellation of the entire body of treaties when one new treaty or stipulation cannot be made applicable in Switzerland.
From the perspective of the EU, the treaties largely contain the same content as the EEA treaties, making Switzerland a virtual member of the EEA. Most EU law applies universally throughout the EU, the EEA and Switzerland, providing most of the conditions of the free movement of people, goods, services and capital that apply to full member states. Switzerland pays into the EU budget and extended the bilateral treaties to the new EU member states, just like full members did, yet people had to decide upon this in a referendum.
The bilateral approach has superseded Swiss enthusiasm for full membership. The popular initiative "Yes to Europe!", calling for the opening of immediate negotiations for EU membership, was rejected in a 4 March 2001 referendum when voters rejected the proposal by 76.8%. The Swiss Federal Council, which is in favour of EU membership, had advised the population to vote against this referendum since the preconditions for the opening of negotiations had not been met.
In a referendum on 5 June 2005, Swiss voters agreed, by a 55% majority, to join the Schengen treaty, a result that was regarded by EU commentators as a sign of support by Switzerland, a country that is traditionally perceived, for better or worse, as isolationist. The agreement came into effect on 12 December 2008.
With the ratification of the second round of bilateral treaties, the Swiss Federal Council downgraded their characterisation of a full EU membership of Switzerland from a "strategic goal" to an "option" in 2006.
The decisively positive result of the referendum on extending the freedom of movement for workers to Bulgaria and Romania, who joined the EU on 1 January 2007 caused the left-wing Green Party and the Social Democratic Party to state that they would renew their push for EU membership for Switzerland. The above mentioned Guillotine Clause was generally held as the reason this referendum result was positive despite the previously generally negative polls. The EU (through its ambassador Reiterer) did threaten to use this clause.
By 2010 Switzerland has amassed around 210 trade treaties with the EU. Following the institutional changes in the EU (particularly regarding foreign policy and the increased role of the European Parliament) European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and Swiss President Doris Leuthard expressed a desire to "reset" EU-Swiss relations with an easier and cleaner way of applying EU law in Switzerland. In December 2012, the Council of the European Union declared that there will be no further treaties on single market issues unless Switzerland and EU agree on a new legal framework similar to the EEA that, among others, would bind Switzerland more closely to the evolving EU legislation. José Manuel Barroso, the President of the European Commission, later affirmed this position. However, a second referendum on Swiss EEA membership isn't expected, and the Swiss public remains opposed to joining.
In the field of foreign- and security policy, Switzerland and the EU have no overarching agreements. But in its Security Report 2000, the Swiss Federal Council announced the importance of contributing to stability and peace beyond Switzerland’s borders and of building an international community of common values. Subsequently, Switzerland started to collaborate in projects of EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP). In the field of peace support operations, Switzerland has, until today, contributed staff or material to the following seven (out of 23) CSDP-Missions: EU Police Mission (EUPM) and EU Military Operation in Bosnia and Herzegovina (EUFOR Althea), EUPOL RD mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo, European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX KOSOVO), EU Police Mission in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (Proxima), Aceh Monitoring Mission (AMM) in Indonesia and EUFOR RD Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Close cooperation has also been established in the area of international sanctions. Until today, Switzerland has adopted five EU sanctions that were installed outside the UN. Those affected the former Republic of Yugoslavia (1998), Myanmar (2000), Zimbabwe(2002), Uzbekistan (2006) and Belarus (2006).
Use of the euro in Switzerland
The currency of Switzerland is the Swiss franc. Switzerland (with Liechtenstein) is in the unique position of being surrounded by countries which use the euro. As a result, the euro is de facto accepted in many places, especially near borders and in tourist regions. Swiss Railways accept euros, both at ticket counters and in automatic ticket machines. Also many public phones, vending machines or ticket machines accept euro coins. Many shops and smaller businesses that accept euros take notes only, and give change in Swiss francs, usually at a less favourable exchange rate than banks. Many bank cash machines issue euros at the traded exchange rate as well as Swiss francs.
On 6 September 2011, the Swiss franc effectively switched to a euro peg: the Franc had always floated independently until its currency appreciation became unsustainable during the Eurozone debt crisis. The peg involves a minimum exchange rate of 1.20 francs to the euro, currently there is no upper bound in place. The Swiss National Bank (SNB) has committed to maintaining the exchange rate to ensure stability.
Swiss relations to individual EU members
|Country||Date of first diplomatic relations||Swiss embassy||Reciprocal embassy||Notes|
Honorary consulates: Bregenz, Graz, Innsbruck, Klagenfurt, Linz, Salzburg.
Consulate General: Zurich;
honorary consulates: Basel, Chur, Geneva, Lausanne, Lugano, Lucerne, St. Gallen.
|Joint organization of Euro 2008, 165 km of common border.|
Honorary consulates: Wilrijk (Antwerp).
Consulate General: Geneva;
honorary consulates: Basel, Lugano, Neuchâtel, St. Gallen, Zurich.
|Swiss Mission to EU and NATO in Brussels.|
Consulates General: Geneva, Zurich.
Honorary consulates: Basel, Zurich, Locarno.
|Denmark||1945||Copenhagen.||Bern.||Main article: Denmark – Switzerland relations|
|Estonia||1938, 1991||Helsinki (Finland).
Honorary consulate: Tallinn.
Honorary consulate: Zurich.
Honorary consulate general: Zurich;
honorary consulates: Basel, Geneva, Lausanne, Lugano, Luzern.
Consulates General: Bordeaux, Lyon, Marseille, Strasbourg.
Consulates General: Geneva, Zurich.
|573 km of common borders.|
Consulates General: Frankfurt, Munich, Stuttgart.
Consulate General: Geneva.
|334 km of common border.|
Consulates: Thessaloniki, Corfu, Patras, Rhodes.
Consulate General Geneva.
Honorary consulates: Zurich, Lugano.
|Main article: Relations of Greece and Switzerland.|
Honorary consulates: Geneva, Zurich, 2 in Zug.
|See also Hungarian diaspora.|
Honorary consulate: Zurich.
Consulates General: Genoa, Milan; honorary consulates: Bari, Bergamo, Bologna, Cagliari, Catania, Florence, Naples, Padua, Reggio Calabria, Trieste, Turin, Venice.
Consulates General: Basel, Geneva, Lausanne, Lugano, Zurich;
consulate: St. Gallen.
|See also Linguistic geography of Switzerland. 740 km of common borders.|
|Latvia||1921, 1991||Riga.||Vienna (Austria).
Honorary consulate: Zurich.
Consulate General: Vilnius.
Honorary consulates: Geneva, Viganello.
|Malta||1937||Honorary Consulate General: Valletta.||Rome (Italy).
Honorary consulates: Lugano, Zurich.
Consulates General: Amsterdam, Rotterdam; honorary consulates: San Nicolaas in Aruba, Willemstad in Curaçao.
Consulates General: Geneva, Zurich;
honorary consulates: Basel, Porza.
|Before 1917, through London.|
Consulates General: Zurich, Grand-Saconnex
Consulates: Lugano, Sion
|Romania||1911, 1962||Bucharest.||Bern.||Main article: Romania–Switzerland relations.|
Honorary consulate: Zurich.
|Slovenia||1992||Ljubljana.||Bern.||Switzerland recognized Slovenia in early 1992 shortly after it gained independence in 1991.|
|Madrid ||Bern |
Consulates General: Basel, Lausanne.
Consulates: Geneva, Lugano, Zurich.
Consulate General: Edinburgh.
Consulates: Belfast, Cardiff, Gibraltar, Hamilton in Bermuda, Manchester, Saint Peter Port in Guernsey, West Bay in Cayman Islands.
Consulate General: Cointrin.
Vice-Consulates: Allschwil, Lugano, Saint-Légier, Zurich;
Consulate Agency: Mollens.
|Main article: Switzerland–United Kingdom relations.|
- Enlargement of the European Union
- Enlargement of Switzerland
- Foreign relations of Switzerland
- German immigration to Switzerland
- Italian immigration to Switzerland
- Exchange Rate Mechanism
Notes and references
- Bilateral relations Switzerland, European Commission
- Miserez, Marc-Andre (2012-12-02). "Switzerland poised to keep EU at arm's length". swissinfo. Retrieved 2013-02-09.
- "Swiss say 'no' to EU". BBC News. 2001-03-04. Retrieved 2008-05-05.
- "Votation populaire du 4 mars 2001". Federal Chancellery. Retrieved 2009-07-17.
- "Entry to Switzerland". Swiss Federal Office for Migration. Retrieved 2008-11-24.
- "Linke lanciert neue EU-Beitrittsdebatte" (in German). baz.online. 2009-02-08. Retrieved 2009-02-09.
- "EU: Swiss avoid guillotine". ISN at ETH Zürich. 9 Feb 2009.
- "Swiss Warned over Bulgaria, Romania Workers". BalkanInsight. 16 Dec 2008.
- Pop, Valentina (19 July 2010) EU looking to reset relations with Switzerland, EU Observer
- Council of the European Union, 8 Jan 2013: Council conclusions on EU relations with EFTA countries
- Keiser, Andreas (2012-11-30). "Swiss still prefer bilateral accords with EU". swissinfo. Retrieved 2013-02-09.
- Itten, Anatol (2010): Foreign Policy Cooperation between the EU and Switzerland: Notice of the wind of changes. Saarbrücken: VDM-Verlag.
- "SBB ticket machines accept euros". SBB. Retrieved 2008-05-14.
- Austrian Foreign Ministry: list of bilateral treaties with the United Kingdom (in German only)
- Austrian embassy in Bern (in German only)
- Austrian mission in Geneva
- Austrian consulate in Zurich (in German only)
- Honorary Consulate in St; Gallen
- Swiss Department of Foreign Affairs about the relation with Austria
- Swiss Department of Foreign Affairs: list of Swiss representation in Austria
- Swiss embassy in Vienna (in German only)
- Switzerland officially recognized Bulgaria on November 28, 1879.
- Year of proclamation of Republic of Cyprus.
- Switzerland had a consular agency in Cyprus since 1937. In 1983 this became a Consulate General and in 1990 an embassy.
- Before 1945: Swiss Legation in Stockholm (Sweden); 1945–1957: Swiss Legation in Copenhagen.
- Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs about relations with Switzerland
- Estonian embassy in Vienna (also accredited to Switzerland): about bilateral relations
- Estonian honorary consulate in Zurich (in German only)
- Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs about relations with Estonia
- Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs: Swiss representation in Estonia
- Switzerland recognised Estonia on April 22, 1922, and diplomatic relations started in 1938. Switzerland never recognised the annexation of Estonia by the Soviet Union and re-recognised Estonia on August 28, 1991. Diplomatic relations were restored on September 4, 1991.
- Switzerland acknowledged Finland on January 11, 1918. Diplomatic relations between them were established on January 29, 1926.
- Permanent since 1522.
- There are between 20,000 and 25,000 Hungarians who live in Switzerland; most of them came after the Hungarian Revolution of 1956.
- Italian embassy in Bern (in Italian only)
- Italian Consulates General in Basel (in French, German and Italian only)
- Italian Consulates General in Geneva (in French and Italian only)
- Italian Consulates General in Lugano (in Italian only)
- Italian Consulates General in Zurich (in German and Italian only)
- Italian Consulates General in St. Gallen (in German and Italian only)
- Swiss Department of Foreign Affairs about the relations with Italy
- Swiss embassy in Rome (in Italian only)
- Swiss Consulates General in Genoa (in Italian only)
- Swiss Consulates General in Milan (in Italian only)
- Switzerland recognised the Latvian state on April 23, 1921. Switzerland never recognised the incorporation of Latvia into the USSR. Both countries renewed their diplomatic relations on September 5, 1991.
- Honorary consulate since 1937; upgraded 2003.
- Swiss embassy in Warsaw
- Polish embassy in Bern
- Legacies since 1911. Embassies since December 24, 1962.
- Since 2001.
- Svenska konsulat i Schweiz och Liechtenstein