Switzerland and the European Union (EU) share history, languages, culture, and political values. On the world stage, the EU and Switzerland are like-minded actors, supporting each other in a number of areas, including:
- climate change
- promoting human rights, and
- combating poverty.
Switzerland also takes part in several of the EU's missions and operations for civilian crisis management.
Through a range of bilateral agreements, the EU has closer ties with Switzerland than with any other country outside the European Economic Area (EEA). Switzerland is associated with several EU policies relating to:
- the internal market,
- the Schengen agreement for free movement across certain borders,
- the Dublin system for dealing with asylum claims, and
- the EU's research and mobility programmes.
Towards an enhanced partnership
In 2014, the EU and Switzerland started negotiations on a common institutional framework. Such overarching "house rules" are necessary to ensure a homogenous application of internal market law in both the EU and Switzerland. An institutional agreement would enable Switzerland to strengthen the partnership and deepen it further.
The “mass immigration initiative”
The excellent EU-Swiss relations are currently overshadowed by the so-called "mass immigration initiative" which the Swiss people adopted in a referendum. By introducing into the Swiss constitution an article claiming quantitative limits to the free movement of people between the EU and Switzerland, the initiative is calling into question the existing system of EU-Swiss agreements.