Bilateral relations

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 regular bilateral contacts at the highest level.

Both countries work closely together in a number of areas, including development cooperation and consular services.

At the multilateral level, Switzerland and Spain pursue common objectives in particular within the framework of the United Nations (UN).

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 and is chaired by Spain.

The commission is an example of the excellent cooperation between Switzerland and Spain at the multilateral level.

Treaty database

International Commission against the Death Penalty (ICDP)

Economic cooperation

Switzerland and Spain have traditionally maintained good and close economic ties. Their volume of trade amounted to approximately CHF 14.2 billion in 2020. Switzerland runs a trade surplus with Spain. The principal categories of goods traded are pharmaceutical and chemical products, precious metals and jewellery, agricultural products and machinery and vehicles.

Swiss direct investments in Spain amounted to CHF 11.4 billion at the end of 2019, making it Spain's 8th largest foreign investor. 

Trade promotion, Switzerland Global Enterprise

Information on countries, State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO)

Cooperation in education, research and innovation

Switzerland is working to raise awareness of Switzerland's dual vocational education and training system among the competent Spanish authorities. To this end, the embassy acts as a platform for dialogue between specialists and governmental circles. It organises workshops, conferences and seminars in Spain and invites Spanish experts to Switzerland in order to introduce them to the dual education system.

Researchers and artists who are citizens of Spain can apply for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships to the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI).

Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships for Foreign Scholars and Artists, SERI

Cultural exchanges

Cultural cooperation between Spain and Switzerland is well established in all areas. The embassy actively promotes and takes part in organising cultural events throughout Spain and also supports the efforts of the honorary consulates to hold such events. 

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 1846, Switzerland opened a trade consulate for Spain, which has been Switzerland's consulate general since 1958. This was followed in 1861 by an honorary consulate in Madrid, which was upgraded to a legation in 1910 and an embassy in 1957.

In 1869, Switzerland and Spain concluded their first trade agreement. 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.

In 1979, King Juan Carlos I made a state visit to Switzerland. Official visits by Swiss President Micheline Calmy-Rey to Spain in 2007 and in February 2011 was followed by the second state visit by King Juan Carlos I and Queen Sofia to Switzerland in May 2011. In 2015, the President of the Swiss Confederation, Simonetta Sommaruga, paid a visit to King Felipe VI and Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.

Spain, Historical Dictionary of Switzerland (de, fr, it)