Germany and Switzerland: Bilateral relations Switzerland

01.02.2021 - 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. Based on the free movement of citizens of the two countries, a large number of Germans (some 300,000 equating to 14% of foreign citizens resident in Switzerland) and citizens of other EU member states live, work or study in Switzerland. Cross-border regional cooperation including frontier workers is a focus of bilateral relations.

Germany remains Switzerland’s most important economic partner with foreign trade totalling 85 billion euros accounting for some 15% of Swiss imports (2019). Also when it comes to direct investment in Germany, Switzerland plays an important role and ranks 8th. The basis of this close economic exchange is the far-reaching mutual market access granted on the basis of the many sectoral agreements concluded since 1999/2002 between the EU and Switzerland (bilateral treaties).

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 – however cultural life is currently very much restricted due to the current pandemic. In 2019, more than 940 German professors and 1800 German lecturers were teaching in Swiss universities, while some 11,000 Germans were enrolled for study at universities in Switzerland. In Germany, more than 310 professors, more than 1000 members of academic staff and more than 3700 students were Swiss nationals. 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.


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