The "Agreement between the European Community and the Swiss Confederation on trade in agricultural products" (Agreement on Agriculture) of 21 June 1999 entered into force on 1 June 2002 and improved mutual market access.
The Agreement consists of the framework agreement (regulation of rules of origin, evolutionary and protective clause, settlement of disputes, and establishment of a Joint Committee), tariff concessions, agreements to eliminate technical barriers to trade as well as explanations on various trade issues and products.
Mutual market access is improved through the reduction of tariffs on selected products as well as through trade facilitation.
The most important points:
- The Agreement on Agriculture foresees mutual tariff concessions for products that are of particular interest to Switzerland and the EU. This mainly concerns the fruit and vegetable sectors, horticulture as well as meat specialties.
- Since 1 June 2007, there is free trade for cheese between Switzerland and the EU.
- The Agreement simplifies trade in the agricultural sector by reducing or even eliminating non-tariff barriers to trade (arising from differing product regulations and import requirements). In this context, certain technical regulations in the areas of plant health, animal feed, seeds, organic farming, wine and spirits as well as quality norms for fruit and vegetables are mutually recognized as being equivalent.
- The designations for wine and spirits are mutually protected; the protection of Swiss designations normally limited to Swiss territory is thus extended to the EU.
- With the entry into force of the Agreement on the mutual recognition of the protected designation of origin (PDO) and protected geographical indications (PGI) in December 2011, which was integrated into the Agreement on Agriculture as Annex 12, designations of food and agricultural products, e.g. cheese and sausage products, are mutually recognized.
- Representatives of the EU and Switzerland meet at least once a year within the Joint Committee on Agriculture. The Committee is responsible for the administration of the agreement and ensures its proper implementation.
- The Agreement on Agriculture with all its Annexes is also applicable to traffic between Liechtenstein and the EU since September 2007. This is recorded in an additional agreement signed by all three parties (Switzerland, the EU and Liechtenstein). Liechtenstein is thus part of the Swiss delegation at the annual meeting of the Joint Committee Switzerland-EU.
In the framework of an update of Annex 12 of the 1999 Agricultural Agreement between Switzerland and the EU on the protection of Designations of Origin (PDOs) and Geographical Indications (PGIs), hereinafter geographical indications (GIs), of agricultural products and foodstuffs , Switzerland is currently examining the possibility of protecting as GIs the designations mentioned below, which have been registered in the EU in accordance with the relevant legislation. The summarized specifications of these GIs are available in the eAmbrosia-Database.
Switzerland especially calls upon any other country, Swiss canton, natural or legal person concerned to submit their duly substantiated comments regarding the possible protection of the listed EU-GIs on Swiss territory.
These comments must be submitted within two months of the date of this publication (5.8.) to the Federal Office for Agriculture, at the following e-mail address: email@example.com. They will not be taken into consideration unless they establish that the protection of the designation could in particular:
- be in conflict with the name of a variety of plant or of a breed of animal and be liable to mislead the consumer as to the true origin of the product;
- be prejudicial to a brand with a total or partial homonym that has been used for a long time;
- be prejudicial to a designation with a total or partial homonym that has been used for a long time;
- have become a common name (the designation of a product which, although referring to the place where this product was initially produced or sold, has become a common name for such products).
The above criteria will be appraised in relation to the Swiss territory, which means exclusively, as far as intellectual property rights are concerned, territory or territories for which these rights are protected.
The protection of these EU designations within Switzerland depends on a positive decision by the Joint Committee on Agriculture according to Article 6 of the bilateral Agreement of 1999.
Last modification 04.08.2020