On 14 December 2020, Switzerland and the UK signed an agreement that secures reciprocal, facilitated market access for service providers between Switzerland and the United Kingdom from 1 January 2021.
The Services Mobility Agreement (SMA) regulates the mutual access and temporary stay of service providers, for example, management consultants, IT experts and engineers. The agreement comes into force on 1 January 2021 when the Swiss-EU agreement on the free movement of persons will no longer apply to the UK.
The SMA also contains provisions on the recognition of professional qualifications.
The agreement allows Swiss businesses to continue to use short-term services from UK companies and UK businesses to use the services of Swiss companies. However there are differences in the terms of the agreement in each direction. For example, market access to the UK under the SMA is currently limited to persons with qualifications at university or equivalent level.
The SMA has an initial limit of two years. However, the parties may jointly decide to extend it. The agreement will be applied provisionally from 1 January 2021.
The Federal Council approved it on 4 December 2020. It is part of the Federal Council’s “mind-the-gap” strategy following the UK’s exit from the EU. The dispatch approving the agreement will be submitted to the UK Parliament by the end of June 2021. The full agreement can be viewed here.
In addition, on 18 December 2020, Switzerland’s Federal Council approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the UK on mobility and migration. Although not legally binding, the MoU provides a foundation for future cooperation on migration. In November 2020, the Federal Council decided it would issue up to 3,500 work permits to UK national in 2021, 2,100 temporary residence permits (B) and 1,400 short-stay permits (L).