Switzerland autonomously introduced, and incorporated into national law through the Law on Technical Barriers to Trade, the «Cassis de Dijon principle», which was developed by the European Court of Justice.
The «Cassis de Dijon principle» stipulates that a product which complies with the technical regulations of the EU, a member state of the EU or that of the EEA, and is legally placed on the market in one of these member states, may in principle be placed on the Swiss market without any further controls (art. 16a of the Law on Technical Barriers to Trade). Exceptions to the principle are only possible when overriding public interests are at stake. An indicative Negative List (PDF, 396 kB, 15.12.2022) includes all products excluded from the «Cassis de Dijon principle».
Swiss manufacturers, who produce exclusively for the Swiss market, can also place products manufactured according to the regulations of EU or EU/EEA member state on the Swiss market (measures aimed at avoiding discrimination of domestic manufacturers).
The application of the «Cassis de Dijon principle» for foodstuffs is subject to specific provisions (authorisation process).
The Federal Council may approve, in justified cases, exceptions to the principle when overriding public interests are at stake, such as concerns over public health, animal and plant health or life.
In 2013, SECO published a report on the effects of the «Cassis de Dijon principle» in Switzerland. The report highlights that, following the introduction of the «Cassis de Dijon principle», a process was set in motion to reduce technical barriers to trade without having a negative effect on the overall protection level. The report also shows that the«Cassis de Dijon principle» helped avoid additional and unfounded barriers to trade, and impeded the creation of new Swiss regulation which diverged from that of the EU.