For the UK (about eight times larger in terms of population), this figure is about three times higher. The EU trades three times more goods with “Little Switzerland” than with the large Latin American Mercosur (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay). Before 2014, the bilateral approach, as it is known in Switzerland, was consistently supported by the Swiss people in referendums. It allows the Swiss to retain a sense of sovereignty, on the basis of agreements, when changes to EU legislation only apply when a joint bilateral Commission decides to do so by consensus. It also limits the EU`s influence to the ten areas in which the EEA covers more territories, with more exceptions than the EEA. In accordance with its long tradition of sovereignty and neutrality, Switzerland is one of the few western European nations that has not joined the European Union. Switzerland has extended bilateral treaties to the new EU Member States; each extension honours the approval of Swiss voters in a referendum. In 2009, Switzerland became a participant in the Schengen area with the adoption of an Association Agreement by referendum in 2005.  This means that there is no passport control at Switzerland`s borders with its neighbours, although customs controls remain in force. Firstly, the free trade agreement, the agricultural agreement and the agreement on processed agricultural products regulate customs matters. Switzerland has a free trade area with the EU and EEA/EFTA members, which means that there are no customs duties between members of this area.
This justified the EU`s firm intention to update the bilateral approach through an ambitious institutional framework agreement. . . .