Institutional agreement (up to 2021)

The flags of Switzerland and the European Union.
In the view of the Federal Council, it is in the shared interest of Switzerland and the EU to continue with their proven bilateral approach even in the absence of the institutional agreement. © FDFA

At its meeting on 26 May 2021, the Federal Council undertook an overall evaluation of the outcome of the negotiations on the institutional framework agreement. It concluded that there remained substantial differences between Switzerland and the EU on key aspects of the agreement.

The Federal Council decided not to sign the institutional framework agreement (InstA) on the grounds that the necessary conditions were not met. This decision, which brought to an end the Swiss–EU negotiations on a draft institutional agreement, was communicated to the EU after the Federal Council meeting of 26 May.

The Federal Council nevertheless considered it to be in the shared interest of Switzerland and the EU to safeguard their well-established approach to cooperation and to systematically maintain the agreements already in force. It therefore decided to launch a political dialogue with the EU on continued cooperation and adopted a set of guidelines for a negotiating package in February 2022.

This allowed for dialogue to be resumed, and exploratory talks with the European Commission on this new package approach were held until the end of October 2023. This approach meant that the tried-and-tested bilateral path could continue as well as enabling new agreements to be concluded and increasing the overall scope for finding joint solutions.

Press release: No signing of Swiss–EU institutional agreement, 26.05.2021

Stabilisation and further development of the bilateral approach

Package approach