Germany and Switzerland: Bilateral relations Switzerland

14.10.2020 - 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 307,400 German nationals, accounting for 14% of foreign nationals in Switzerland) 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 102.6 billion Euro 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 40.1 billion euros. The same year, German investment in Switzerland totalled around 40.7 billion Euro and some 137,000 people were employed in German-majority-owned companies in Switzerland and the approximately 2000 Swiss companies operating in Germany employed around 454,000 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 2019, 2793 German professors and lecturers were teaching in Swiss universities, while some 14,500 Germans were studying at Swiss universities. There were approximately 1000 Swiss academic staff members and 3700 Swiss students at universities in Germany (winter semester 2018/19). 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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