This paper, prepared by the Centre for Swiss Politics at the University of Kent, examines Switzerland’s past and present political engagement with the EU, looking in detail at the operation of Switzerland’s financial services industry within this context. Through considering the experience of a European country operating outside of the EU, the research seeks to provide a contribution to the debate on the UK’s relationship with the EU and the extent of engagement in political and fiscal union. Although commonly referred to as a ‘model’ of engagement, in reality Switzerland’s relationship with the EU is complex, framed by a series of sector specific bilateral agreements. Rather than seeking to maintain economic and political distance, Switzerland’s bilateral approach has been a means of remaining close to the EU. Swiss financial services have accessed the EU’s Single Market through their presence in London, however the future of this is uncertain given tighter regulation and new supervisory regimes. Looking ahead, the future form of engagement between Switzerland and the EU is difficult to predict, dependent on attitudes both within Switzerland and the EU, transitory agreements and individual firms’ reactions.
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