The EEA Agreement was signed in Porto on 2 May 1992 by the seven states of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), the European Community (EC) and its twelve Member States at the time.   On 6 December 1992, the Swiss people opposed the ratification of the agreement in a constitutional referendum, which practically froze the application for EC membership submitted at the beginning of the year. Instead, Switzerland is linked to the EU by a series of bilateral agreements. On 1 January 1995, three former EFTA members – Austria, Finland and Sweden – joined the European Union, which had replaced the European Community on the date of entry into force of the Maastricht Treaty on 1 November 1993. Liechtenstein`s participation in the EEA has been postponed until 1 May 1995.  Any European State which becomes a member of the EU or which becomes a member of EFTA may apply to become a party to the EEA Agreement in accordance with Article 128 of the Agreement.  While the agreements intensified economic relations, they also created a complex and sometimes inconsistent network of commitments. Bilateral agreements need to be updated regularly and do not have the dynamic character of the EEA Agreement. They also lack effective monitoring agreements or dispute settlement mechanisms. To address these issues, negotiations were launched on 22 May 2014 between the EU and Switzerland for an Institutional Framework Agreement (AFI). The negotiations aimed to resolve several difficult issues ranging from the conditions applicable to EU service providers in Switzerland to the role of the Court of Justice in dispute settlement. Negotiations for the IFA were concluded at the political level on 23 November 2018. However, the Federal Council was unable to agree on the final text due to Switzerland`s concerns about the lack of consideration of “accompanying measures”  and the adoption of the acquis communautaire in the area of the free movement of persons.
It has launched a broad internal consultation with the relevant federal commissions, parties, cantons, social partners and science/research, which will serve as a basis for deciding whether or not to submit the agreement to the Federal Federal Assembly for approval. During the hearing, which ended in April 2019, a number of issues were raised and the Swiss side needs further clarification. The EU is open to further clarification provided that the text is not renegotiated and has asked the Swiss side to provide a list of specific issues for which clarifications are needed. In terms of foreign and security policy, Switzerland and the EU have no cross-cutting agreements. However, in its 2000 security report, the Federal Council announced the importance of contributing to stability and peace beyond Switzerland`s borders and of building an international community of values. Subsequently, Switzerland began to collaborate on EU Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) projects. Switzerland has provided personnel or equipment for the European Union peacekeeping and security missions in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kosovo, Macedonia and Aceh in Indonesia, in order to provide personnel or equipment to provide personnel for security purposes. Today, the debates on the controversial institutional agreement between Switzerland and the EU mirror the EEA debates of the 1990s. But is this agreement comparable to that of the EEA? If accepted, would our relations with the EU resemble those of Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway? If so, how and to what extent? Foraus has decrypted both agreements for you. However, the number of EEA-EFTA members was quickly reduced: Switzerland decided not to ratify the agreement following a negative referendum on the issue and Austria, Finland and Sweden joined the European Union in 1995. Only Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein remained in the EEA.