Is Switzerland a Member of the European Union?
No, Switzerland is not a member of the European Union (EU).
Switzerland had applied to become a member of the European Union, but negotiations remained suspended for 24 years since the people first voted against the move in 1992. The formal application to join the EU was formally withdrawn, on July 27, 2016, following a negative vote by the people of Switzerland.
Events in Switzerland leading to the formal rejection of the EU
In 1972, Switzerland signed a Free Trade Agreement with the European Economic Community. As a member of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), Switzerland entered into negotiations with the EU for negotiating the European Economic Area (EEA). On May 2, 1992, it signed the agreement with the EU, and on May 22, 1992, it applied for EU membership.
After a lot of internal debate, Switzerland held a referendum on December 6, 1992, for people to decide on participating in the EEA. The vote once again went against integration, and since then, Switzerland’s membership remained suspended. In July 2016, the application was formally withdrawn.
Bilateral Agreements that govern Swiss-EU relationship
Post rejection of the EEA in 1992, Switzerland negotiated seven sector-based agreements referred to as Bilaterals I. The agreement covered the free movement of people, public procurement, technical trade barriers, agriculture and related products, land and air transportation, and scientific research.
Bilaterals II was signed in 2004, covering the movement of people under Schengen, taxes on savings, processed agriculture products, fighting fraud, statistics, participating in EU Media program, Environment initiatives, and financial participation in economic initiatives in new EU member states.
At present, over 100 bilateral agreements govern trade between Switzerland and the EU. EU remains Switzerland’s largest trade partner, while Switzerland stands 3rd largest trade partner of the EU.