Federal Council sets out foreign policy priorities for 2020–23
Press release, 30.01.2020
At its meeting on 29 January, the Federal Council approved Switzerland's foreign policy strategy for the next four years. The thematic focus areas for 2020–23 are peace and security, prosperity, sustainability and digitalisation. The strategy also includes clear regional objectives worldwide, with a special focus on the EU, and new objectives for the external network and foreign policy communication. For the first time, the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) prepared the foreign policy strategy as part of a broad interdepartmental process. The Federal Council thus intends to increase the coherence, effectiveness and credibility of Swiss foreign policy.
In a world marked by increasing volatility, a strategic framework is essential to guide Switzerland's actions abroad. The Foreign Policy Strategy 2020–23 translates the objectives of the Federal Council's legislative programme into such a framework for foreign policy action. Based on the Federal Constitution and the principles of consistency, trust and tradition, it defines new focus areas with regard to the previous strategy and proposes new instruments for dealing with a changing global context. The four thematic focus areas set by the Federal Council are:
1. Peace and security
In a spirit of cooperation with other countries, Switzerland is committed to working towards a safe and peaceful world where everyone can live free from want and fear, have their human rights protected and enjoy economic prosperity. In times of polarisation, demand is growing for Switzerland's specific and wide-ranging expertise, e.g. good offices, humanitarian commitment, bridge-building skills, mediation, military peace support and science diplomacy.
The focus here is on the candidacy for a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council for the 2023–24 period, which would enable Switzerland to intensify its work towards a peaceful international order.
If prosperity is to be assured over the long term, it must be sustainable, shared by all and based on clear and respected international rules. Through targeted international cooperation and sustainable resource management, Switzerland supports this approach by contributing to the development of other countries. To achieve this, it must also maintain its own prosperity up to 2023 and beyond by working towards a stable global financial, trade and monetary architecture and by creating favourable framework conditions to support the Swiss economy as well as education, research and innovation.
The focus here is on consolidating and expanding the bilateral approach with the EU.
Within the framework of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Switzerland is committed to promoting sustainable development that gives due and balanced consideration to the environment, the economy and society. It has set up the appropriate administrative structures to this end. It also works at national and international level with all stakeholders to promote environmental protection and sustainability.
The focus here is on implementing the 2030 Agenda and on tackling climate change and protecting the environment.
While continuing to develop its digital foreign policy, Switzerland intends to add a digital dimension to its role as a bridge-builder. Switzerland will also work to ensure that cyberspace activities comply with international law, making people and their needs a priority.
The main focus here is on raising Switzerland's profile in global efforts to consolidate cyber governance. Geneva is to be positioned as a leading hub in this respect.
These four thematic focus areas and the objectives of the Foreign Policy Strategy 2020–23 will be implemented in all regions of the world and at the multilateral level. Particular emphasis will be placed on relations with the EU. As before, the objectives of Switzerland's EU policy are to consolidate and develop the bilateral approach by means of an institutional agreement and to ensure a partnership that strikes an optimum balance between maximum access to the internal market, wide cooperation in other areas of common interest, and the broadest political autonomy possible.
The Federal Council mandated the FDFA in 2011 to prepare a foreign policy strategy every four years. This is the third such paper to be adopted. For the first time, the strategy has been formulated as part of a broad interdepartmental process. The Federal Council seeks to broaden the consensus on Swiss foreign policy and make sure that it is implemented coherently in line with Switzerland’s national interests and values.
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