The 1972 Free Trade Agreement and the first package of bilateral agreements of 21 June 1999 are of great importance to Swiss companies in terms of gaining access to the internal market of the European Union (EU). The package formed part of a series of measures designed to tackle the weak economic growth of the 1990s, and they have undoubtedly made a significant contribution to the strong performance of the Swiss economy in recent years. The improved access to the EU's internal market afforded by the agreements is vitally important to the export industry and its suppliers, and the sectoral agreements have given rise to increased demand for Swiss products in various export industries. Since gaining access to a larger pool of skilled labour through the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons (AFMP), the Swiss economy has been able to take full advantage of this increased demand. In addition, strengthened cooperation with the EU on research has boosted the efficiency of research spending in Switzerland.
The first package comprises seven agreements. The AFMP gives Swiss and EU nationals the freedom to choose where they want to live and work in either territory, subject to certain conditions. The other market access agreements govern the access of goods and services to sectoral markets in the EU and Switzerland. They are: the Agreement on technical barriers to trade, the Agreement on public procurement, the Agreement on land transport, the Agreement on air transport and the Agreement on agriculture. Lastly, the research agreement paved the way for Switzerland's participation in the EU Framework Programmes for Research – the world’s largest research funding programmes, both in terms of financial volume and topics covered.