The end of the Cold War and various globalisation processes rapidly and lastingly changed the economic and foreign policy landscape. On the economic front, Switzerland responded with flexibility, focusing on its strengths in the service sector and securing a very strong global position even in the wake of the international downturns and crises of 1991, 2001, and 2008.
In the foreign policy arena, supranational regulations and organisations rapidly gained in importance. In Switzerland’s immediate environment, this was particularly evident in the rapid expansion of the European Union (EU, formerly the EEC), which has grown from 12 member states in 1992 to 28 today.
In these circumstances, Switzerland carefully watered-down its policy of neutrality and opened itself towards a number of international initiatives, but kept the EU at arm’s length. Contentious debates over Switzerland’s policy on the EU contributed to the rapid rise of the national-conservative Swiss People’s Party (SVP), which became the strongest party by far at the beginning of the 21st century. The concordance government – and its “magic formula” – adjusted to this development with some difficulty.