In these turbulent times in global politics – with its many and increasingly acute crises – the first foreign policy strategy for the 2012–15 legislative period proved successful and contributed towards a coherent and credible foreign policy. The second strategy report on the foreign policy priorities for 2016–19, adopted by the Federal Council on 17 February 2016, is therefore based on its precursor strategy. However, the new strategy also incorporates the progress made with the implementation of the previous strategy and introduces some shifts of emphasis. It also takes account of the changes in Switzerland’s international environment and the new challenges being faced.
The Federal Council has defined the following four strategic priorities:
1. European Union and EU/EFTA states: Switzerland’s relations with the EU/EFTA states, giving particular consideration to neighbouring states, are to be consolidated. An expandable relationship with the EU is to be established. Good relations with the EU are essential for effective cooperation in a wide range of policy areas, helping to foster prosperity and security.
2. Global partners: Switzerland is neither a member of the EU, NATO nor the G20. In view of this and owing to shifts in global power, it is vital that Switzerland intensifies its network of relationships with global partners to safeguard its interests and to resolve specific issues. On account of the political and economic weight of regional organisations, Switzerland also wishes to increase its presence in such institutions.
3. Peace and security: as a highly globalised country with an export-based economy, Switzerland’s security and prosperity depend upon a stable environment and a just international order. It is crucial that Switzerland plays a role in shaping its environment through comprehensive and creative forms of engagement. It is therefore enhancing its mediation capabilities in the field of crisis and conflict resolution.
4. Sustainable development and prosperity: the global Sustainable Development Goals (Agenda 2030) will become an integral part of Switzerland’s international cooperation efforts. Switzerland will prioritise areas where it can create added value, such as in vocational education and training or community development. However, these areas also include humanitarian aid, economic and trade policy measures in development cooperation, transition cooperation and measures to promote peace and human security. To maintain its prosperity, Switzerland wishes to exert greater influence internationally over the drawing-up of regulations and norms. It will also seek to further promote Switzerland as a centre of business, science and research.
Citizen-oriented services for the Swiss abroad
Today, over three-quarters of a million Swiss live abroad (the exact figure was 761,930 as at 31 December 2015). Swiss citizens undertake around ten million trips abroad each year. With increasing mobility, there is also growing demand for the services provided by the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) and its representations abroad. The FDFA is continually adapting its range of consular public services to meet this demand. It primarily focuses on e-government solutions here. Swiss nationals living abroad will be able to enter their details independently online from mid-2016 thanks to the new Swiss abroad register (eVera). Swiss citizens can already register their journeys online using the electronic platform and the ‘itineris’ app so that they can be contacted in emergency situations.
The new Swiss Abroad Act also entered into force on 1 November 2015.
The report on Switzerland’s foreign policy priorities for 2016–19 meets a requirement of the Federal Council, which on 11 May 2011 tasked the FDFA with submitting a strategy document to it at the beginning of each legislative period. This second legislative period strategy also takes account of a motion referred by Parliament (motion number 10.3212 on a clear foreign policy strategy).
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