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AVIS28 – Inspiring Switzerland to be ready for the future

Think about the future to chart the right course today: that is the goal of Switzerland's 2028 Foreign Policy Vision. The report of the working group commissioned by Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis was published on 2 July 2019 and is intended to act as a source of inspiration for the FDFA's development of Switzerland's foreign policy.

What will the world look like in ten years? Right now, no one knows. But it is important to think about such matters today – what trends might become even stronger in the future, and what consequences could this have for people and societies? For the FDFA too, a responsible foreign policy means asking the right questions in order to start working in good time on the framework needed for a future-oriented Switzerland.

Switzerland in the world in 2028

©FDFA

Switzerland's 2028 Foreign Policy Vision (AVIS28) is an important step in this direction. Between October 2018 and March 2019, the working group commissioned by Mr Cassis considered the question of how Switzerland should position itself globally in terms of its future foreign policy. The report is intended to provide new input to steer Swiss foreign policy in line with future challenges and opportunities. The report 'Switzerland in the world in 2028' was written by the working group, not the FDFA. 

It analyses global drivers of change and draws conclusions for Swiss foreign policy in the medium-term. The report sets out a vision for Swiss foreign policy over the next ten years in six key areas.

Focused, connected, agile: The Vision 2028 in brief

Foreign policy is becoming increasingly important to Switzerland's prosperity and security. Switzerland is a success story, but if its success is to continue until 2028 and beyond it will need to adapt to the changing international environment. This requires the courage to change. Switzerland needs to adopt a more focused, networked and agile foreign policy:

  • Switzerland's foreign policy must emerge from a defined position more than has hitherto been the case.
  • As an independent country, Switzerland needs to build upon relationships, both nationally and internationally, to enable it to promote its values and defend its interests. In shaping Swiss foreign policy, the Federal Council needs to adopt a 'whole of Switzerland' approach and step up cooperation with like-minded countries to achieve the stated objectives.
  • Finally, Switzerland's foreign policy instruments must be geared to anticipating challenges and opportunities, enabling it to respond rapidly and with flexibility. Switzerland needs skills and resources in order to be heard in the volatile world of tomorrow and have a stake in shaping global events.

AVIS28 sets out a vision in six points that provide a frame for defining future foreign policy:

  1. By 2028, Switzerland's foreign policy will deliver on strategic priorities based on clearly defined interests and its values. Foreign policy will articulate thematic and regional priorities. The Federal Council and the individual departments will be consistent in their dealings with the outside world, including major powers.

  2. Foreign policy will be closely linked with domestic policy. Swiss foreign policy will have a broad domestic support base as it meets the expectations of the general public. The Federal Council will determine the direction of foreign policy in close consultation with Parliament and the cantons, based on a shared understanding of the responsibilities involved.

  3. Greater focus on services for citizens and cooperating with Swiss businesses are recognised assets of Swiss foreign policy. Foreign policy and trade policy will operate as a homogeneous whole. Market access for Swiss companies is a key priority. The private sector is an effective partner in addressing sustainable development goals.

  4. Switzerland will leverage its core strengths to build a more peaceful and stable world. Swiss development cooperation will focus on creating jobs locally, finding innovative solutions to reduce poverty and addressing migration challenges strategically. Harnessing new technology will ensure effective delivery of humanitarian aid. Peacebuilding will be backed by a clear strategy, strong political commitment, and attractive packages of good offices. Switzerland will be able to respond rapidly to requests for its good offices. It will adopt effective initiatives to bolster the rules-based international order and work, both offline and online, to foster respect for international law and human rights.

  5. By 2028, new technologies will be an established topic of Swiss foreign policy. With its innovative multi-stakeholder ecosystems, International Geneva will be a leading location for governance in relation to the digital transformation. Swiss tech diplomacy will present a clear, contextual profile and contribute to international policy debates. Swiss-based (tech) companies and the scientific community will have become established partners in this process.

  6. Having consolidated its bilateral approach, Switzerland will work with the EU, as a non-member state, in shaping Europe. The institutional issues will have been settled and a strategic and non-defensive narrative will inform internal debate on Europe. Being a European country both in cultural and geographical terms, Switzerland’s defence of its global interests will start with Europe. Switzerland will foster European regional cooperation. It will take an active role in shaping decisions, providing effective input into policy areas coordinated by the EU at European level.

The working group on Switzerland's 2028 Foreign Policy Vision

The working group comprised senior FDFA staff, the president of the Conference of the Cantonal Governments of Switzerland and experts from the scientific community, business sector and civil society. The experts were appointed personally by Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis to provide an outside perspective on global affairs and Swiss foreign policy and augment the internal views put forward within the FDFA. 

Members of the AVIS28 working group:

  • Dr Philipp Aerni, Director of the Center for Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability at the University of Zurich
  • Pascale Baeriswyl, State Secretary, Head of the Directorate of Political Affairs, FDFA
  • Dr Roberto Balzaretti, State Secretary, Head of the Directorate for European Affairs, FDFA
  • Alenka Bonnard, Director and co-founder of staatslabor
  • Dr Manuel Sager, Ambassador, SDC Director-General, FDFA
  • Dr Markus Seiler, FDFA General Secretary (head of the working group)
  • Peter R. Voser, Chairman of the Board of Directors, ABB
  • Dr Thomas Wellauer, Group Chief Operating Officer, Swiss Re
  • Benedikt Würth, Cantonal Councillor, President of the Conference of the Cantonal Governments of Switzerland

Secretary: Dr Daniel Möckli, Expert, FDFA General Secretariat 

The aforementioned titles refer to the respective functions held at the time of nomination. 

As requested by Mr Cassis, FDFA staff were also able to contribute their analyses, concepts and ideas. To this end, a number of sounding boards were created. The results of these discussions and inputs were passed on to the working group.

Last update 07.03.2022