Fostering relations with neighbouring states and regions bordering Switzerland is one of the priority areas of Switzerland’s foreign policy in the 2016–2019 legislative period. This strategic focus is reflected in the frequency of diplomatic visits at the bilateral and regional levels, and in efforts to address unresolved issues and jointly seek constructive solutions with neighbouring states.
Switzerland and its neighbours are closely interdependent, with ties based on shared political, linguistic, economic and cultural characteristics and interests. Some 60% of EU citizens residing in Switzerland are from our neighbouring states. Germany, France, Italy and Austria account for 70% of bilateral trade with Switzerland. These neighbouring states are also important members of the EU. This means Switzerland has a strong interest in fostering permanent dialogue with them on its relations with the EU. Moreover, Germany, France and Italy are members of the G8, and France also has a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.
Transport, finance and taxation, and energy are the main focuses for cooperation with neighbouring states. There is also very close cooperation in the area of consular and visa services and in research and innovation. Cooperation in the Alpine region is another important aspect of relations with neighbouring states. Furthermore, Switzerland works closely at the multilateral level with its neighbours, including in the context of Switzerland's OSCE chairmanship in 2014, on the issue of terrorist financing by kidnapping for ransom and through its joint efforts to fight the death penalty at the global level. Switzerland holds regular political consultations with the neighbouring states to exchange ideas on current international issues.
Ties with regions directly bordering Switzerland are especially strong. Switzerland does approximately as much trade with Baden-Württemberg as it does with the United States, and more than with China, Russia, Brazil, India and South Africa combined. The volume of trade Switzerland does with the bordering regions of Italy also outstrips trade with China. Switzerland's economic success owes a great deal to borders shared with two of the most competitive regions in Europe – southern Germany and northern Italy – as well as access to a highly-skilled workforce.