Switzerland and the European Union: Wikis


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Euro-Swiss relations
European Union   Switzerland
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This article is part of the series:
Foreign relations of the European Union


Switzerland is a member of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). It took part in negotiating the European Economic Area 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. As a consequence, the Swiss government decided to suspend negotiations for EU accession 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 treaties

  1. Free movement of people
  2. Air traffic
  3. Road traffic
  4. Agriculture
  5. Technical trade barriers
  6. Public procurement
  7. Science

Second treaties

  1. Security and asylum/Schengen membership
  2. Cooperation in fraud pursuits
  3. 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 or even the EU. Most EU law applies universally throughout the EU, the EEA and Switzerland, providing most of the benefits of the free movement of people, goods, services and capital that full member states enjoy. 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 unpopular 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%.[1][2]

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.[3]

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.[4]

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, de facto, the euro is accepted and used in many places, especially near borders and in tourist regions. Swiss Railways accept euros, both at ticket counters and in automatic ticket machines[5]. 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. Some bank cash machines issue euros at the traded exchange rate as well as Swiss francs.

Swiss relations to individual EU members

Country Date of first diplomatic relations Swiss embassy Reciprocal embassy Notes
 Austria[6] Middle Ages Vienna.
Honorary consulates: Bregenz, Graz, Innsbruck, Klagenfurt, Linz, Salzburg.
General consulate: Zürich;
honorary consulates: Basel, Chur, Geneva, Lausanne, Lugano, Lucerne, St. Gallen.
Joint organization of Euro Cup 2008.
 Belgium 1838[7] Brussels.
Honorary consulates: Wilrijk (Antwerp).[8]
General consulate: Geneva;
honorary consulates: Basel, Lugano, Neuchâtel, St. Gallen, Zurich.[9]
Swiss Mission to EU and NATO in Brussels.[10]
 Bulgaria[11] 1905[12] Sofia. Berne.
 Cyprus[13] 1960[14] Nicosia.[15] Rome (Italy).
General consulates: Geneva, Zürich.
 Czech Republic[16] 1993.[17] Prague. Berne.
Honorary consulates: Basel, Zürich, Locarno.
 Denmark[18] 1945[19] Copenhagen.[20] Berne. Before 1945, Stockholm, Sweden.[19]
 Estonia[21] 1938, 1991[22] Helsinki (Finland).
Honorary consulate: Tallinn.
Vienna (Austria).
Honorary consulate: Zürich.
 Finland[23] 1926[24] Helsinki. Berne.
Honorary consulate general: Zürich;
honorary consulates: Basel, Geneva, Lausanne, Lugano, Luzern.
 France[25] 1430[26] Paris.
General consulates: Bordeaux, Lyon, Marseille, Strasbourg.
General consulates: Geneva, Zürich.
573 km of common borders.
 Germany[27] 1871 Berlin.
General consulates: Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Munich, Stuttgart.
General consulate: Geneva.
334 km of common border.
 Greece 1830 Athens.
Consulates: Thessaloniki, Corfu, Patras, Rhodos.
General consulate Geneva.
Honorary consulates: Zürich, Lugano.
Main article: Relations of Greece and Switzerland.
 Hungary[28] Budapest. Berne.
Honorary consulates: Geneva, Zürich, 2 in Zug.
See also Hungarian diaspora.[29]
 Ireland[30] 1922 Dublin. Berne.
Honorary consulate: Zürich.
 Italy[31] 1868[32] Rome.
General consulates: Genoa, Milan; honorary consulates: Bari, Bergamo, Bologna, Cagliari, Catania, Florence, Naples, Padua, Reggio Calabria, Trieste, Turin, Venice.
General consulates: Basel, Geneva, Lausanne, Lugano, Zürich;
consulate: St. Gallen.
See also Linguistic geography of Switzerland. 740 km of common borders.
 Latvia[33] 1991[34] Riga. Vienna (Austria).
Honorary consulate: Zürich.
 Lithuania[35] 1991 Riga.
General consulate: Vilnius.
Honorary consulates: Geneva, Viganello.
 Luxembourg 1938[36] Luxembourg.[37] Berne.

Consulates: Basel, Chiasso, Geneva, Zurich.[38]

 Malta[39] 1937[40] Honorary general consulate: Valletta.[41] Rome (Italy).
Honorary consulates: Lugano, Zürich.
 Netherlands 1917[19] The Hague.
General consulates: Amsterdam, Rotterdam; honorary consulates: San Nicolaas in Aruba,Willemstad in Curaçao.[42]
General consulates: Geneva, Zurich;
honorary consulates: Basel, Porza.[43]
Before 1917, through London.[19]
 Poland Warsaw.[44] Berne.[45]
 Portugal 1855[46] Lisbon.[47] Berne.
General consulates: Zurich, Grand-Saconnex
Consulates: Lugano, Sion[48]
 Romania 1911, 1962[49] Bucharest. Berne. Main article: Romania–Switzerland relations.
 Slovakia[50] 1993 Bratislava. Berne.
Honorary consulate: Zürich.
 Slovenia[51] 1992[52] Ljubljana.[53] Berne. Switzerland recognized Slovenia in early 1992 shortly after it gained independence in 1991.
 Spain Middle Ages[54] Madrid [55] Berne [56]
 Sweden 1887[57] Stockholm.[58] Berne
General consulates: Basel, Lausanne.
Consulates: Geneva, Lugano, Zürich.[59]
 United Kingdom[60] 1900[61] London.
General consulate: Edinburgh.
Consulates: Belfast, Cardiff, Gibraltar, Hamilton in Bermuda, Manchester, Saint Peter Port in Guernsey, West Bay in Cayman Islands.[62]
General consulate: Cointrin.
Vice-Consulates: Allschwil, Lugano, Saint-Légier, Zurich;
Consulate Agency: Mollens.[63]

See also

Notes and references

  1. ^ "Swiss say 'no' to EU". BBC News. 2001-03-04. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/1201133.stm. Retrieved 2008-05-05.  
  2. ^ "Votation populaire du 4 mars 2001". Federal Chancellery. http://www.admin.ch/ch/f//pore/va//20010304/index.html. Retrieved 2009-07-17.  
  3. ^ "Entry to Switzerland". Swiss Federal Office for Migration. http://www.bfm.admin.ch/bfm/en/home/themen/einreise.html. Retrieved 2008-11-24.  
  4. ^ "Linke lanciert neue EU-Beitrittsdebatte" (in German). baz.online. 2009-02-08. http://bazonline.ch/schweiz/standard/Linke-lanciert-neue-EUBeitrittsdebatte/story/14787303. Retrieved 2009-02-09.  
  5. ^ "SBB ticket machines accept euros". SBB. http://mct.sbb.ch/mct/en/reisemarkt/services/bahnhof/billettautomat.htm#zahlung. Retrieved 2008-05-14.  
  6. ^
  7. ^ http://www.eda.admin.ch/eda/fr/home/reps/eur/vbel/bilbel.html
  8. ^ http://www.eda.admin.ch/eda/fr/home/reps/eur/vbel/afobel.html#town476b8109-9c2a-4021-8522-819ba2a1ed95
  9. ^ http://www.eda.admin.ch/eda/fr/home/reps/eur/vbel/achbel.html
  10. ^ http://www.eda.admin.ch/eda/fr/home/reps/eur/vbel/afobel.html#town0e07aaa1-3b10-4fc4-905b-4ad73364d334
  11. ^
  12. ^ Switzerland officially recognized Bulgaria on November 28, 1879.
  13. ^
  14. ^ Year of proclamation of Republic of Cyprus.
  15. ^ Switzerland had a consular agency in Cyprus since 1937. In 1983 this became a Consulate General and in 1990 an embassy.
  16. ^
  17. ^ http://www.eda.admin.ch/eda/fr/home/reps/eur/vcze/biltsc.html
  18. ^
  19. ^ a b c d http://www.eda.admin.ch/eda/fr/home/reps/eur/vdnk/bilden.html
  20. ^ Before 1945: Swiss Legation in Stockholm (Sweden); 1945–1957: Swiss Legation in Copenhagen.
  21. ^
  22. ^ 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.
  23. ^
  24. ^ Switzerland acknowledged Finland on January 11, 1918. Diplomatic relations between them were established on January 29, 1926.
  25. ^
  26. ^ Permanent since 1522.
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^ There are between 20,000 and 25,000 Hungarians who live in Switzerland; most of them came after the Hungarian Revolution of 1956.
  30. ^
  31. ^
  32. ^ http://www.eda.admin.ch/eda/fr/home/reps/eur/vita/bilita.html
  33. ^
  34. ^ 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.
  35. ^
  36. ^ http://www.eda.admin.ch/eda/fr/home/reps/eur/vlux/billux.html
  37. ^ http://www.eda.admin.ch/eda/fr/home/reps/eur/vlux/afolux.html
  38. ^ http://www.eda.admin.ch/eda/fr/home/reps/eur/vlux/achlux.html
  39. ^
  40. ^ http://www.eda.admin.ch/eda/fr/home/reps/eur/vmlt/bilmal.html
  41. ^ Honorary consulate since 1937; upgraded 2003.
  42. ^ http://www.eda.admin.ch/eda/fr/home/reps/eur/vnld/afonie.html
  43. ^ http://www.eda.admin.ch/eda/fr/home/reps/eur/vnld/achnie.html
  44. ^ Swiss embassy in Warsaw
  45. ^ Polish embassy in Berne
  46. ^ http://www.eda.admin.ch/eda/fr/home/reps/eur/vprt/bilpor.html
  47. ^ http://www.eda.admin.ch/eda/fr/home/reps/eur/vprt/afopor.html
  48. ^ http://www.eda.admin.ch/eda/fr/home/reps/eur/vprt/achpor.html
  49. ^ Legacies since 1911. Embassies since December 24, 1962.
  50. ^
  51. ^
  52. ^ http://www.eda.admin.ch/eda/fr/home/reps/eur/vsvn/bilslo.html
  53. ^ Since 2001.
  54. ^ http://www.eda.admin.ch/eda/fr/home/reps/eur/vesp/bilspa.html
  55. ^ [1]
  56. ^ [2]
  57. ^ http://www.eda.admin.ch/eda/fr/home/reps/eur/vswe/bilswe.html
  58. ^ http://www.eda.admin.ch/eda/fr/home/reps/eur/vswe/afoswe.html
  59. ^ Svenska konsulat i Schweiz och Liechtenstein
  60. ^
  61. ^ http://www.eda.admin.ch/eda/fr/home/reps/eur/vgbr/bilgro.html
  62. ^ http://www.eda.admin.ch/eda/fr/home/reps/eur/vgbr/afogro.html
  63. ^ http://www.eda.admin.ch/eda/fr/home/reps/eur/vgbr/achgro.html

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