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Learning goals and roadmap

As stated before, our course explores the economic, political and legal position of Switzerland in Europe, in particular vis-à-vis the European Union (EU).

We have defined five specific learning goals for our course. At the end of our course, ideally you will:

  • understand the general place of Switzerland in the ‘legal (and political) landscape’ of Europe, in particular its relationship with important international organisations dealing with economic matters,
  • be aware of the high degree of interconnectedness of countries in the modern world and you realise that no country is an island,
  • know about the complex legal relationship between Switzerland and the EU as the most important regional organisation when it comes to economic matters,
  • be able to reflect on the effect that the special situation of Switzerland has for the debate in other countries on issues such as taxation or migration,
  • be able to apply your knowledge in other contexts, eg when evaluating news about regional integration in Europe or elsewhere.

In order to reach these goals, we will explore a number of specific issues. Here is an overview of what we will do in the remainder of this first course week and in the weeks to come:

  1. In the remainder of the first course week, we will use the keyword of ‘money’ in order to approach our topic. More specifically, we will look into certain aspects of taxation as an example demonstrating how a small but economically important country like Switzerland is linked to other countries, how its actions have an impact on others and how these may make demands that are perceived as difficult in Switzerland. We will also see how international and regional governmental organisations play a role in this context.
  2. In Week 2, we will take a closer look at the legal relationship between Switzerland and a particularly important regional organisation, namely the European Union (EU). Why is Switzerland not a member of either the EU or a related organisation, namely the European Economic Area (EEA)? And how is it nevertheless legally linked to the EU?
  3. In Week 3, we turn to the keyword of ‘migration’, putting the focus on persons in need of international protection, in particular those seeking asylum. How do international and regional rules link countries to each other in this important and demanding field, and what is the place of Switzerland in this web of rules?
  4. Week 4 continues to focus on migration, but this time turns to a different aspect, namely the so-called free movement of persons within Europe. This is a core element of the European Union. What is the position of Switzerland in this regard? In particular, what about the Swiss vote of February 2014 to limit immigration?
  5. In Week 5, we take a look at an aspect that in the past years has fundamentally challenged the legal relationship between Switzerland and the EU, namely its so-called institutional framework. Why is this so important and how do the treaties between the EU and Switzerland work from a legal and political point of view? Week 5 will be accompanied by Dr Georges Baur, Assistant Secretary-General in Brussels to the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). Georges Baur will act as a guest educator in this week and participate in the discussions. You might, thus, like to follow him as well!
  6. In our final week we will reflect, against the background of the discussion of the previous weeks, on the present state of the relationship between Switzerland and the EU, and will consider possible scenarios for the future.

In the download section below, you will find the list of specific topics addressed in our upcoming six course weeks.

Note: Since law is a text-based discipline, there will be a certain amount of reading - please do not be afraid. We structured the material in such a way as to walk through the content together with you as smoothly as possible. Further reading is always optional!

Similarly, you will find a glossary in the next step. It gives you the opportunity to look up a word or an abbreviation. We are not asking you to learn the words by heart or even read through all of them at this moment in time. The next step shall mainly make you aware of the abbreviations and legal documents to which the other steps refer.

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This article is from the free online course:

Switzerland in Europe: Money, Migration and Other Difficult Matters

University of Basel