Home Europe European Union and Switzerland Launch Negotiations to Enhance Relations

European Union and Switzerland Launch Negotiations to Enhance Relations

In a significant move towards strengthening ties between the European Union (EU) and Switzerland, President Ursula von der Leyen and President of the Swiss Confederation Viola Amherd initiated negotiations today on a comprehensive set of measures aimed at deepening and expanding their relationship. This pivotal step follows the adoption of negotiating mandates by both Switzerland and the EU earlier in March 2024. The mandates, endorsed respectively on 8th and 12th March 2024, empower the negotiating teams to engage in discussions outlined in the Common Understanding, which was previously ratified by the Swiss Federal Council and the European Commission in November 2023. With a shared ambition to conclude negotiations within the year, both sides are poised to address mutual interests and pave the way for enhanced cooperation.

At the heart of these negotiations lies a commitment to ensuring a fair and competitive environment for businesses from both regions operating within the EU internal market. Additionally, there’s a focus on safeguarding the rights of EU citizens working in Switzerland, with an emphasis on non-discrimination among citizens of different EU member states.

Key components of the negotiation package include:

  1. Institutional Provisions: These provisions will be integrated into existing and future agreements concerning the EU internal market. They entail dynamic alignment with EU law, uniform interpretation, application, and mechanisms for dispute resolution.
  2. State Aid Provisions: Addressing state aid issues in various agreements pertaining to the internal market.
  3. Participation in EU Programs: An agreement facilitating Switzerland’s involvement in EU programs, notably the Horizon Europe initiative.
  4. Financial Contribution: Switzerland’s commitment to a regular and permanent financial contribution towards social and economic cohesion in the EU in exchange for its participation in the internal market.
  5. Sector-Specific Agreements: Renewed negotiations on agreements related to electricity, food safety, health, and participation in EU agencies for space programs and railways.

In addition to these core negotiations, the European Commission has opened avenues for Swiss entities to partake in European Research Council calls for 2024. Under this arrangement, Swiss applicants will be treated on par with applicants from associated countries in terms of eligibility and evaluation processes.

The backdrop to these negotiations is the profound interconnectedness between the EU and Switzerland. The EU stands as Switzerland’s largest trading partner, while Switzerland holds the position of the EU’s fourth-largest partner. The movement of citizens between these regions is substantial, with approximately one and a half million EU citizens residing in Switzerland and around 450,000 Swiss citizens in the EU. Moreover, hundreds of thousands of EU citizens cross borders daily for work.


The path leading to these negotiations began in March 2022, with exploratory discussions between the EU and Switzerland. The culmination of these talks was the Common Understanding, ratified in December 2023, which serves as the blueprint for the ongoing negotiations. The EU mandate, aligned with this understanding, was presented in December 2023, building upon earlier mandates dating back to 2014. As negotiations unfold, both parties are poised to navigate complex issues and seize opportunities for mutually beneficial cooperation, thereby fostering stronger ties between the EU and Switzerland.