Universiteit Leiden

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Publication by Christa Tobler on the legal relationship between Switzerland and the EU

The legal relationship between Switzerland and the EU dates back to the 1950s and 1960s, when Switzerland concluded its first agreements with the then European Communities. Since then, numerous other agreements have been concluded. In view of this long history of development, it is not surprising that the form of the various agreements varies.

This is particularly true for the institutional aspects (including amendment, interpretation and enforcement of the agreements). A modernisation of the institutional aspects, at least for a number of bilateral core agreements between Switzerland and the EU, has been under discussion for years. However, the parties have not yet succeeded in finding a joint solution for this.

The issue of institutional questions must be seen against the backdrop of a changing legal environment. Just as Switzerland sees bilateral law as part of its broader relations under international law, the EU also sees the agreements with Switzerland in the broader context of its other foreign treaties. There, however, institutional developments have taken place over time that are also relevant for bilateral law.

Starting from the early trade agreements, the article focuses on the development of the institutional design of selected bilateral agreements over time and relates this to other agreements that the EU has entered into with non-member states. The main focus is on the dispute settlement mechanism and here on the introduction of a supranational, judicial element as well as a possible function of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in this framework.

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