When the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union in June 2016, the Federal Council of Switzerland in September of that year unveiled its “Mind the Gap” strategy. This strategy was implemented on 1st January 2021. This strategy allows for both countries to retain their existing legal relationships post Brexit. Outlined below are the main agreements between the two countries.
The UK and Switzerland will continue to apply all existing air transport rules, allowing carriers to retain current traffic rights. The continued passage of goods and people by road will carry on as normal – No authorisations will be needed.
The trade agreement allows for relevant trade agreements with the European Union to be implemented between Switzerland and the United Kingdom which include:
It allows for Swiss and UK insurance companies to operate in each other’s jurisdictions, however, excludes life insurance. The rights of Swiss nationals in the UK and vice versa are protected under the Citizens Rights Agreement. This includes the free movement of both nationals, the recognition of social security entitlements and qualifications. The Police Cooperation Agreement enhances cooperation on both terrorism and crime prevention.
The exports from the United Kingdom to Switzerland totaled USD 19.94 billion for the year ending 2020. Pearls, precious stones, coins, and metals made up USD 14.20 billion, whilst works of art and antiques made up USD 1.55 billion. Other exports such as pharmaceutical products made up USD 426.28 million, vehicles, (other than railways) made up USD 490.72 million, machinery boilers and nuclear reactors made up USD 490.72 million, and organic chemicals made up USD 686.09 million.
Both countries have agreed on a continuing dialogue to improve migration, have closer cooperation on financial services, and further, develop economic and trade relations. In other words, it is business as usual with our Swiss friends. Both countries have gone out of their way to maintain a healthy and working relationship.
Interestingly in early June 2021, Norway announced a post-Brexit trade deal with the United Kingdom, which also includes Iceland and Liechtenstein who together form the European Economic Area (EEA). Norwegian prime minister Solberg advised that whilst not on a par with the EEA agreement, the agreement reached with the United Kingdom is the most comprehensive free trade agreement ever.
The United Kingdom’s trade with the EEA for the year ending 2020 totaled GBP 21.6 billion. This agreement also includes reduced tariffs on haddock, prawns, and shrimps. This goes a long way to supporting the 16,000 jobs in the fish processing industry in the north of England and Scotland.
It goes without saying that leaving the EU was highly contentious as the United Kingdom was split down the middle. However, the government is continuing to move forward with independent trade deals with many countries, and as in the past, the United Kingdom will prevail as the EU continues to flounder under its own red tape.