The Services Mobility Agreement (SMA) between Switzerland and the UK was signed on 14 December 2020 and has been applied provisionally since 1 January. The SMA regulates the reciprocal market access and temporary stay of service providers such as management consultants, IT experts and engineers. It ensures mutual facilitated market access for service providers in Switzerland and the UK after the AFMP ceased to apply to the UK from 1 January. The SMA also contains provisions on the recognition of professional qualifications.
Under the agreement, Switzerland will continue the notification procedure for service providers from the UK for up to 90 days per year. Businesses are already familiar with this procedure. The Swiss economy will thus continue to have rapid access to short-term services from UK companies. The accompanying measures for UK service providers will also continue in full under the SMA. In 2019, around 3,800 businesses from the UK provided services in Switzerland for up to 90 days.
The SMA also opens up the UK market to Swiss service providers through market access commitments in over 30 service sectors. It also gives them further preferential conditions in the UK; for example, Swiss service providers are not required to undergo an economic needs test for access in these sectors in the UK. Service providers from Switzerland are granted access to the UK market for 12 months within a 24-month period. These SMA conditions continue to give Swiss companies extensive access to the UK market for contract-based service provision by natural persons.
The SMA will initially apply for two years. The parties may mutually decide whether to extend it.
The consultation on the SMA ran from 17 February to 30 April. A total of 35 responses were received in the course of the consultation. All those who took part in the consultation came out in favour of the SMA, although in a number of cases they criticised certain aspects of the agreement or requested improvements to the agreement if it were to be extended.
After adopting the dispatch, the Federal Council will submit the agreement to Parliament for approval.
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