Switzerland participated in the negotiations of the EEA Agreement with the EU, signed the Agreement on 2 May 1992 and submitted an application for EU membership on 20 May 1992. A Swiss referendum on 6 December 1992 refused accession to the EEA. Subsequently, the Swiss government suspended EU accession negotiations until further notice. By ratifying the second round of bilateral treaties, in 2006 the Federal Council downgraded the characterisation of Switzerland`s full membership of the EU from a “strategic objective” to an “option”. Membership remained the government`s goal and was a “long-term goal” of the Federal Council until 2016, when Switzerland`s frozen application was withdrawn. [25] [26] The motion was adopted in June by the Council of States and then by the Federal Council. [27] [28] [5] By letter of 27 July, the Federal Council informed the Presidency of the Council of the EU that it was withdrawing its request. [29] The result of the referendum on the extension of free movement to Bulgaria and Romania, which joined the EU on 1 January 2007, led Switzerland not to comply with its obligations to the EU. In September 2009, the Swiss government declared that bilateral treaties were not solutions and that the accession debate needed to be re-examined[35], while the Left Green Party and the Social Democratic Party declared that they would renew their commitment to Switzerland`s accession to the EU.

[36] These bilateral agreements between the EU and Switzerland are currently managed by some twenty joint committees. The Swiss federal government has recently made several substantial policy shifts, but specific agreements have been dealt with with the EU on the free movement of workers and areas of tax evasion within the Swiss banking system. This was the result of the first Swiss-EU summit in May 2004, at which nine bilateral agreements were signed. Romano Prodi, former president of the European Commission, said the agreements “have brought Switzerland closer to Europe”. Joseph Deiss of the Federal Council said: “We may not be at the centre of Europe, but we are certainly at the heart of Europe.” He continued: “We are entering a new era of relations between our two entities.” [33] From the EU`s point of view, the Treaties contain much of the same content as the EEA Treaties, which means that Switzerland practically becomes a member of the EEA. Most EU Member States are universal throughout the EU, the EEA and Switzerland and offer most of the conditions for the free movement of persons, goods, services and capital that apply to Member States. Switzerland contributes to the EU budget. Switzerland has extended bilateral treaties to the new EU Member States; each extension honours the approval of Swiss voters in a referendum.

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