Veterinary Agreement between Switzerland and the EU

The Veterinary Agreement governs the control of animal diseases, trade in animals and animal products and the import of these animals and products from third countries. It creates the basis for the common veterinary area. 

European Commission logo
European Commission logo

Annex 11 of the bilateral Agreement on trade in agricultural products between Switzerland and the EU is known as the Veterinary Annex or the "Veterinary Agreement". It covers health and animal breeding measures applicable to trade in live animals and products of animal origin.

The Veterinary Agreement governs:

  • the control of certain animal diseases and their notification
  • trade between Switzerland and the EU in living animals, their sperm, egg cells and embryos and animal products (milk and dairy products, meat and meat products)
  • the import of these animals and products from third countries
  • animal breeding

Common veterinary area

Border veterinary controls for trade in animals and animal products between Switzerland and the EU were abolished on 1 January 2009.

Shipments from non-EU countries (third countries) are inspected when they enter the Swiss-EU veterinary space and can then be moved freely. Appropriate facilities have been set up in Switzerland at Geneva and Zurich airports. This is where the Swiss border veterinary service inspects products of animal origin. In return, the EU Member States control shipments destined for Switzerland when they first arrive in an EU Member State (e.g. Rotterdam, Frankfurt).

It should be noted that the customs and species conservation controls for imports from third countries and from the EU are still in place.

Joint Veterinary Committee (JVC)

Correct implementation of the Veterinary Agreement is monitored by the Joint Veterinary Committee. It is responsible for updating the Veterinary Agreement, discusses bilateral problems and looks for mutually acceptable solutions.

In Switzerland, the FSVO is responsible for issues associated with the Veterinary Agreement. It sends a delegation to the JVC, thus ensuring direct dialogue and good relations between Switzerland and the EU on veterinary matters.

Implementation in Switzerland

In Switzerland the FSVO is responsible for:

  • updating the Veterinary Agreement
  • modifying Swiss legislation in response to changes in EU legislation
  • communicating changes in Swiss legislation
  • monitoring compliance at the external border (border control points)

Influence of Switzerland on the EU

Decisions taken by the EU in the area of animal health and food safety affect Swiss legislation through the Veterinary Agreement. Switzerland therefore seeks to represent its position to the EU when legislation is being drafted and as scientific developments occur. It does this by participating in working groups and in the standing committee.

Its scope for influence is, however, limited since Switzerland does not have voting rights. Good bilateral contact is therefore vital for ensuring that Switzerland's concerns and interests are taken on board.

More information

Last modification 07.03.2017

Top of page