Since the Free Trade Agreement of 1972, the network of agreements has continually developed, especially in the course of the two contract packages of the bilateral agreements I (1999) and II (2004). These agreements provide both parties with extensive market access and form the basis for close cooperation in such key policy areas as research, security, asylum, the environment and cultural affairs. This bilateral approach allows Switzerland to conduct a policy of openness and close cooperation with all its European neighbours.
The EU is of importance to Switzerland from an economic, political and cultural standpoint. The EU shares values, languages and part of its history with Switzerland. Owing to its central location, stature as an economic and financial centre and its involvement in foreign affairs, Switzerland is an important partner for the EU as well.
But Switzerland also cultivates its relations with European countries outside the EU area, above all to the regions of South-Eastern Europe, Eastern Europe and the Southern Caucasus. Switzerland's engagement focuses on peace and security, prosperity and good governance, sustainable resource management and digital governance.