Switzerland and the EU are linked via more than 120 bilateral agreements, which concern the single market and other sectors. So far, the country has not been willing to join the EU for reasons of neutrality, direct democracy, its federal structure and economic considerations, among other things.
A large number of EU acts are implemented by Switzerland without any obligation to do so, mainly due to economic considerations. Binding obligations to implement EU law are enshrined in the various bilateral agreements, but mostly they do not extend to take account of changes in EU law. Swiss courts are not obliged to follow the jurisprudence of the Court of Justice of the EU but alignment is common practice.
The EU considers the number and structure of the bilateral agreements cumbersome to manage and is trying to convince Switzerland to put relations into a more systematic framework with effective institutions.
The general pressure of the financial crisis has led Switzerland to reform its banking laws and further reforms will follow. However Switzerland maintains its policy of keeping banking secrecy. Currently, Switzerland has signed bilateral agreements with Germany, the UK and Austria on savings tax. Switzerland has fixed its currency to a minimum level, and while economic growth predictions have been revised downwards they are still positive.
[…] also published two briefings on external relations. Franziska (together with Cornelia) highlight Swiss bilateral agreements with the EU – how well do they work and will this strategy succeed in the […]