The EU enjoys very close relations with Switzerland in every sense: culturally, politically, economically and geographically. Switzerland is also the EU’s third largest economic partner, ahead of both Japan and Russia. In the meantime, Switzerland relies heavily on the EU seeing as 65% of Swiss imports come from the EU and 44% of its exports go towards EU Member States. The lives of EU and Swiss citizens are very much intertwined, with 450,000 Swiss living in the EU and over a million EU citizens residing in Switzerland.
The foundation of relations between Switzerland and the EU is the 1972 Free Trade Agreement. Since then, several other agreements were negotiated between the parties to maintain strong relations. This month, EU-Swiss relations were further improved after the Swiss Parliament adopted the Federal Act on Foreign Nationals on 16 December and an EU-Switzerland Joint Committee meeting on 22 December. With such developments, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has voiced his optimism for stronger bilateral relations in 2017.