Swiss Energy System and European Energy Policy

Switzerland is currently negotiating an electricity agreement with the EU. Together with our partner institutes at EGI-HSG, we examine the impacts of a Europeanization on Swiss energy policy.


The study examined how the integration of the Swiss energy system into European energy policy would influence the energy policy of Switzerland. It focused on the necessary adaptations of the Swiss energy governance structures; and the implications for the Swiss Energy Strategy 2050, especially renewable energy investments by decentralized producers.

We assessed the impacts under two scenarios: "direct Europeanization" via a new bilateral electricity agreement between Switzerland and the EU, and "indirect Europeanization" without such an agreement. The study drew on expertise from legal, political, and management sciences. The contribution of the IPW-HSG mainly explored the implications for Swiss multi-level energy governance and Swiss foreign energy policy.


Our contribution to the study found that the conclusion or failure of an electricity agreement has major implications on the level of governance. An electricity agreement will likely enhance the opportunities of Swiss key actors to shape European energy governance by formalizing or securing their roles within important European bodies (ElCom observership in ACER, Swissgrid in ENTSO-E, and SFOE in bodies of the European Commission and the Council). Although Switzerland will still not enjoy the same formal position as EU member states, its increased formal access will provide it with more opportunities for shaping European energy polices. Still, coordination among Swiss key actors (SFOE, ElCom, and Swissgrid) will be important for turning access into influence.

Without an electricity agreement, Switzerland is likely to be increasingly excluded from European energy governance bodies. The process of exclusion has already started, but assessments of how severe it might become differ. This uncertainty is due to the fact that decisions on future access of third countries like Switzerland are highly political and dependent on developments in the context of Brexit. Formal access points of Switzerland that may be put at risk include ACER, ENTSO-E, and forums under the European Commission. A loss of formal access will render the physical management of the Swiss electricity grid even more challenging and it will reduce Swiss capacities for electricity imports. Only the continuing physical interdependencies between the Swiss and EU electricity grids as well as informal channels of influence (e.g., the Pentalateral Energy Forum) may still provide Switzerland with some limited, yet increasingly instable influence.

Partner institutes



June 2018 to May 2019


Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF): National Research Programmes 70 "Energy Turnaround" and 71 "Managing Energy Consumption" 


Further information:

Europeanization of the Swiss Energy System

Verhältnis zwischen Schweiz und EU in der Energiepolitik (German only)