On Thursday 27th June, the chamber was fortunate enough to welcome Gilles Roduit, Deputy-Head of the Mission of Switzerland to the EU, to a lunch briefing, in order to discuss the key partnership between the EU and Switzerland.
The event was a great opportunity for members as many of the details discussed provided valuable insight into the Swiss-EU relations. During the briefing, important information about the Swiss-EU affairs including cultural and geographical proximity, economic relations including trading, institutional agreements and issues were discussed. The economic ties are clear when Switzerland’s trading statistics with the EU are analysed. Approximately 70% of Switzerland’s imports, whilst 52% of its exports are to the EU28, making Switzerland one of the three largest trading partners of the EU, along with China and the USA.
Switzerland’s proximity to the EU on both a geographical and cultural level was discussed, referring to the number of Swiss nationals residing in the EU. The intense economic relations between Switzerland and the EU were also covered. We learned that Switzerland is one of the most important political and economic partner of the EU, with the daily trading volume between the two amounting up to 1 billion CHF. In addition, the discussion covered the bilateral approach, referring to the free trade agreement as well as the two bilateral agreements between Switzerland and the EU.
To conclude, it is clear that Switzerland is almost as close to the EU as possible without being a memberi tself. This is largely down to where sovereignty lies in Switzerland, which is very much with the people, as four separate referendums are held each year on a variety of issues which shape national policy. If Switzerland was to join the EU, it would be very difficult for the population to set national policy the way it does now, due to common policies implemented by the EU. However, there is still a large feeling of being ‘European’ in the state, which enables coordination between the EU and Switzerland significantly easier.
Deputy Head | Mission of Switzerland to the EU
Mr. Gilles Roduit is since September 2017 Deputy Head at the Mission of Switzerland to the European Union in Brussels. From 2014 to 2017, he was Deputy Head of Mission at the Embassy of Switzerland to India and Bhutan. Prior to this assignment, Mr. Roduit was Head of the Peace Policy Section on Middle East and North Africa in Bern, and before Deputy Head of Mission and Human Security Advisor at the Embassy of Switzerland in Sarajevo (2007-2010). From 2002 to 2007, he was Desk for multilateral affairs and member of the Task Force that led to the creation of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. He started his diplomatic career as Attaché at the Embassy of Switzerland in Singapore and as Desk for economic and financial affairs in Bern. Mr. Roduit has Master of Art in international relations from the University of Geneva and a Master of Art in advanced European studies from the University of Basel.