Switzerland and the European Union (EU) have had a longstanding relationship, which has been governed by a complex set of bilateral agreements. These agreements cover a wide range of areas, from trade to research and development, and have been instrumental in shaping the economic and political landscape of Switzerland and the EU.
The bilateral agreement between Switzerland and the EU was first signed in 1972 and has undergone several revisions over the years. The most recent agreement, known as the Bilateral III, was signed in 2004 and came into force in 2005. This agreement covers a total of seven areas, including research and development, trade in agriculture, transport, and the free movement of people.
The free movement of people is perhaps the most controversial aspect of the bilateral agreement between Switzerland and the EU. Under this agreement, citizens of Switzerland and the EU can live and work freely in either region. However, this has led to concerns among some Swiss citizens about the impact of migration on the country`s economy and culture.
Despite these concerns, the bilateral agreement between Switzerland and the EU has been largely successful. Switzerland is one of the EU`s top trading partners and is closely integrated into the EU`s single market. The country also benefits from access to the EU`s research and development programs, which has helped drive innovation and economic growth in Switzerland.
However, the relationship between Switzerland and the EU is not without its challenges. In 2014, the Swiss electorate voted in favor of limiting the free movement of people between Switzerland and the EU. This vote has put the bilateral agreement at risk, as it goes against the principle of free movement that is enshrined in the agreement.
Since then, negotiations between Switzerland and the EU have been ongoing, with both sides trying to find a solution that will satisfy the demands of the Swiss electorate while preserving the integrity of the bilateral agreement. These negotiations have been complicated by the ongoing Brexit saga, as the EU has been reluctant to make concessions to Switzerland that could set a precedent for the UK`s future relationship with the EU.
In conclusion, the bilateral agreement between Switzerland and the EU is a complex and evolving relationship that has been instrumental in shaping the economic and political landscape of both regions. While there are challenges to this relationship, particularly in the area of migration, both sides are committed to finding a solution that will preserve the benefits of the bilateral agreement while addressing the concerns of their citizens.