• University of Basel logo

Switzerland in Europe: Money, Migration and Other Difficult Matters

Learn about the position of Switzerland in Europe, in particular with respect to money, migration and other difficult matters.

3,866 enrolled on this course

A simple map of Switzerland with drawings of luggage, the building of the Swiss Federal Parliament, money and a book with EU Law written on its cover
  • Duration

    6 weeks
  • Weekly study

    4 hours

In times of economic uncertainty and increasing migration within Europe, the relationship between Switzerland and the European Union (EU) is severely tested. Located in the west of the European continent, Switzerland is a small but wealthy country, which is surprisingly not a member of the EU. Did you ever wonder what the reasons for this are? And have you ever thought about what legal conditions govern this exceptional relationship?

In this free online course, we will attempt to answer some key questions, including:

  • What is the general place of Switzerland in the ‘legal (and political) landscape’ of Europe?
  • What effect does the special situation of Switzerland have for the debate in other countries on issues such as taxation and migration?

Learn to distinguish fact from myth

This course offers a legal and political look at the position of Switzerland in Europe and its challenges as a non-Member State of the EU. We will put a particular focus on much debated and sometimes misunderstood issues such as corporate taxation, banking secrecy and the debate about curbing immigration. With this in mind, you will be able to reflect on Switzerland, the EU and regional integration on a differentiated basis.

Expand your knowledge through case studies

In addition to case studies on ‘money’ and ‘migration’, we will also discuss the negotiations between Switzerland and the EU on the institutional framework of the Swiss-EU legal relationship. Studying the case of Switzerland from different angles will not only further your legal knowledge but also sharpen your awareness of the high degree of interconnectedness of countries in the modern world. After this course you should be able to apply your knowledge in other contexts - for example, when assessing news about regional integration in Europe or elsewhere.

Download video: standard or HD

Skip to 0 minutes and 10 seconds Did you ever wonder why Switzerland, a landlocked country in the heart of Western Europe, is not part of the European Union or EU? Or did you ever ask yourself about the meaning of the famous, or depending on the perspective, infamous Swiss Banking Secrecy? This course puts the focus on much debated issues, such as banking secrecy, corporate taxation, and migration, as well as on the consequences of the Swiss rules on these issues vis-a-vis other countries. We invite you to explore the economic, political, and legal position of Switzerland in Europe, in particular its relationship with the EU.

Skip to 0 minutes and 59 seconds Through this course, you will become aware of the effect that the special situation of Switzerland has for the political and legal debate in other countries. At the end of this course, you will understand the general place of Switzerland in the legal and political landscape of Europe. More specifically, you will be acquainted with the complex legal relationship between Switzerland and the EU, which is the most important regional organisation in Europe when it comes to economic matters. Furthermore, you will be aware of the preconditions shaping the momentary situation, including its history.

Skip to 1 minute and 41 seconds In order to reach these goals, we will not just look at corporate taxation and Swiss Banking Secrecy, but also at issues like the decision by the Swiss voting population to limit immigration and its consequences for the participation of Switzerland in the EU’s research, culture, and student mobility programmes. We look forward to working with you on money, migration, and other difficult matters and to hearing your inputs on these topics. Join our course, and find out whether or not Switzerland can be considered an island.

What topics will you cover?

  • Switzerland’s legal relationship to the European Union, present and future
  • Federal structure of Switzerland
  • Corporate taxation and banking secrecy
  • Migration of persons seeking international protection
  • Economic migration and the free movement of persons
  • The Swiss popular vote on curbing migration as compared to the debate in the UK
  • The institutional framework of the Swiss-EU Agreements

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Reflect on the interconnectedness of states in the modern world.
  • Describe the federal structure of Switzerland.
  • Debate corporate taxation and banking secrecy against the background of global and regional rules.
  • Explore the interests involved in economic migration.
  • Compare the legal concept of free movement of persons with national debates on curbing migration.
  • Develop an opinion on the rules on persons seeking international protection.
  • Summarise the present system of Swiss-EU agreements.
  • Collect arguments ‘why Switzerland should or should not join the EU’.

Who is the course for?

The only thing you need to bring to the course is an interest for legal, political and social issues. You do not need to have a prior knowledge of law to profit from this course. The course addresses non-professionals as well as people working in politics or administration - for example, in the EU, the EEA and Switzerland, further journalists and law students, in particular, but not only, those specialising in EU and international law.

Who will you learn with?

I am a professor of European Union Law both in Switzerland (Basel University) and in the Netherlands (Leiden University).

I am a PhD candidate in EU law at the University of Basel, especially interested in asylum/migration law and policy. I am looking forward to discussing this and other topical issues on FutureLearn.

Who developed the course?

University of Basel

The University of Basel has an international reputation of outstanding achievements in research and teaching.

Endorsers and supporters

content provided by

Europa Institut

Learning on FutureLearn

Your learning, your rules

  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps to help you keep track of your learning
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

Want to know more about learning on FutureLearn? Using FutureLearn

Do you know someone who'd love this course? Tell them about it...

You can use the hashtag #FLswitzerland to talk about this course on social media.