Germany and Switzerland: Bilateral relations Switzerland

13.03.2020 - Article

Germany and Switzerland enjoy close, wide-ranging and good-neighbourly relations, not least thanks to the shared language, which is spoken in large parts of Switzerland. The two countries pursue similar goals in their social, economic and foreign policy. There are numerous contacts at all levels. All German Federal Presidents have paid visits to Switzerland, the most recent being that by Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier from 25 to 26 April 2018. Consultations and meetings are held regularly at ministerial and state-secretary level. The large number of Germans (approximately 315,000 German nationals, or around 450,000 including those with dual nationality) and other EU nationals living in Switzerland – a result of the country’s continuing high demand for skilled workers – has repeatedly been discussed as part of the domestic political debate about the free movement of persons on which Switzerland has an agreement with the European Union.

Germany is still Switzerland’s most important trading partner by far. The volume of trade between the two countries totalled 97.8 billion Swiss francs in 2019. Switzerland is Germany’s ninth biggest export market and is in eighth place as a source of German imports. In 2018, Swiss investment in Germany totalled 42 billion euros. During the same period, German investment in Switzerland totalled 27 billion Swiss francs. That year, some 127,000 people were employed in German-majority-owned companies in Switzerland and the approximately 2000 Swiss companies operating in Germany employed around 420,000 people.

Cultural ties are very close and wide-ranging because the German language and German culture pervade large parts of Switzerland. Every year, Germans take part in a host of events in all areas of culture. In 2018, there were 954 German professors and 1622 German lecturers working at Swiss universities and approximately 11,500 Germans studying in the country. Conversely, there were slightly more than 300 Swiss professors working at German universities and 3600 Swiss nationals studying in Germany at that time (2018-2019 academic year). The German media have a large audience in Switzerland. In the Swiss media, there is steady, detailed and wide-ranging coverage of developments in German politics, society and culture.


Top of page