Switzerland and the Kingdom of Spain continue to maintain good relations which are characterised by close political, economic and cultural exchanges between the two countries.
Key aspects of diplomatic relations
Switzerland and Spain maintain robust relations that often involve contacts at the highest political level. The two countries collaborate closely at the political, economic, scientific and cultural levels, as well as in development cooperation and consular services.
Switzerland and Spain also pursue common goals at the multilateral level, primarily within the framework of the UN and other international organisations. International Geneva and the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) in Basel are also important platforms in this regard.
Switzerland also supported Spain's initiative to establish the International Commission against the Death Penalty (ICDP), which is comprised of a number of high-ranking members from different countries. The commission is an example of the excellent cooperation between Switzerland and Spain at the multilateral level.
Switzerland and Spain have traditionally maintained good and close economic ties. Their volume of trade amounted to approximately CHF 20.7 billion in 2021. The principal categories of goods traded are pharmaceutical and chemical products, precious metals and jewellery, agricultural products, machinery and vehicles.
Switzerland's total direct investment in Spain at the end of 2020 was CHF18.9 billion, making it the country's eighth-largest foreign investor.
Cooperation in education, research and innovation
At the federal level, bilateral and institutional scientific cooperation with Spain takes place via European or international research programmes. Spain was Switzerland's fifth partner in the Horizon 2020 programme.
The two countries have cooperated in a number of promising fields, including:
- artificial intelligence, quantum technology and robotics
- energy – particularly energy storage and efficiency
- renewable resources (wind, sun and biomass energy)
- biotechnology – particularly 'red' (healthcare, genetics) and 'green' (agriculture)
- information and communications technology
- architecture and civil engineering
In 2021 Spain was once again the third most popular country for Swiss students on academic exchanges abroad.
Switzerland and Spain are also working to promote potential collaborations in vocational education and training.
Switzerland and Spain maintain close cultural relations across a range of fields. The embassy and consulate general in Barcelona promote cultural cooperation, regularly help to organise cultural events and also support the honorary consulates' work in this area.
Swiss nationals in Spain
At the end of 2021, there were 25,122 Swiss nationals living in Spain.
History of bilateral relations
Relations between the two countries have a long tradition. As long ago as the late Middle Ages, Spain – then a great power – maintained a legation in Switzerland, while Swiss trading houses had a presence in Spain.
In 1847, Switzerland opened a trade consulate for Spain in Barcelona, which has been Switzerland's consulate general since 1958. This was followed in 1861 by an honorary consulate, which was upgraded to a legation in 1910 and an embassy in 1957.
Switzerland and Spain signed their first trade agreement in 1869. During the First World War, Spain was Switzerland’s principal food supplier. Relations became closer with Spain's transition to a parliamentary monarchy after the death of Franco in 1975, and with its accession to the EU in 1986.
From then on, the two countries engaged in regular high-level political contacts. In 2015 President of the Confederation Simonetta Sommaruga paid a visit to King Felipe VI and Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. The current prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, has met with presidents Alain Berset (Brussels, 2018), Ueli Maurer (WEF, 2019) Simonetta Sommaruga (WEF, 2020) and Ignazio Cassis (WEF, 2022).