Switzerland and United Kingdom sign agreement on mutual recognition of professional qualifications
Bern, 14.06.2023 - Meeting in London on 14 June 2023, Federal Councillor Guy Parmelin and British Secretary of State for Business and Trade Kemi Badenoch signed an agreement on the mutual recognition of professional qualifications. For Switzerland, this is the second such agreement signed with a partner outside the EU, the first one being the agreement signed with Quebec in 2022.
Cooperation between Switzerland and the United Kingdom on the mutual recognition of professional qualifications began over twenty years ago. Initially, there was the Swiss-EU Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons (AFMP). After the United Kingdom withdrew from the European Union and by extension from the AFMP, Switzerland and the United Kingdom took steps to safeguard the rights of their respective citizens. The resulting Swiss-UK bilateral agreement provided for a transitional period up to the end of 2024. In order to establish a solid basis for the mutual recognition of professional qualifications from 2025 onwards, Switzerland and the United Kingdom have now entered into a new agreement, which will soon be opened for consultation. The Swiss Parliament still needs to ratify the agreement, which is expected to occur sometime in 2024.
The agreement enables citizens of both countries to take up employment in regulated professional activities. Swiss professionals and companies benefit from the agreement as it will enable them to continue offering their services in the United Kingdom. For specific professions, special privileges (e.g. automatic recognition) can be established either through mutual recognition arrangements (MRAs) or by adding annexes to the current agreement. These two options provide the contracting parties with the necessary means to adapt the system over time as needed. The agreement already contains specific provisions covering lawyers.
Encouraging the international recognition of Swiss professional qualifications is one of the stated objectives of the Federal Council's international strategy for education, research and innovation. In order to reach this objective, additional mutual recognition agreements are needed to cover qualifications awarded in countries whose education system is comparable to Switzerland's. The United Kingdom is an ideal partner for Switzerland as both countries have an outstanding education system.
At its meeting on 9 June 2023, the Federal Council authorised the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (EAER) to sign the bilateral agreement with the United Kingdom. It also decided to initiate consultation for this agreement and proposed legislative amendments. The consultation round will continue until 6 October 2023.
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