The members of the European Union are: Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Greece, Cyprus, Malta, Italy, Slovenia, Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, France, UK, Ireland, Spain and Portugal.
In 1992 Swiss voters narrowly turned down the European Economic Area (EEA) or single market. The three other members of the European Free Trade Agreement (Efta) - Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway - did choose to join the EEA, although Efta still exists.
Under the Swiss system of direct democracy, an actual application to join the EU would entail a national referendum, and a majority of voters and cantons in favour of joining.The lukewarm attitude to the EU is based on a number of factors. The union is perceived as falling short in democratic institutions. Switzerland's frequently used system of initiatives and referenda would need drastic reform and curtailment to comply with EU rules.
There is also a concern about the cost: Switzerland would be a net contributor to the EU coffers, and there are doubts about whether neutrality would be compatible with EU membership.
Swiss trade and industry is not convinced of the benefits of EU membership. Switzerland has traditionally traded with the whole world, with every second franc being earned through exports.
General Swiss scepticism about the EU was underlined by a national vote in 2001, which turned down a proposal on opening membership negotiations.The pragmatic response of the Swiss government since 1992 has been to engage in long and difficult talks with the EU on a series of bilateral accords.
A first set of bilateral treaties between Switzerland and the EU, mainly on trade, labour and transport issues, came into force in 2002.
A second series of treaties, signed in October 2004, has been approved by parliament and the people.
The rightwing Swiss People's Party challenged the Schengen/Dublin accords on closer security cooperation to a nationwide vote. But the electorate approved the treaties at the ballot box in June 2005.
A separate vote, on whether to extend an existing labour accord to include the ten new EU member states, was approved by voters in September 2005.
Despite a campaign led by the far-right Swiss Democrats and parts of the far left, voters accepted the extension of the treaty. Then again look at the benefits accrued to the UK by leaving the EU. Perhaps the decision not to join the EU was indeed spot on!
In February 2009 the electorate approved the continuation of a key labour accord and its extension to the latest EU members, Bulgaria and Romania.
To ensure Switzerland does not suffer discrimination as a non-member, Swiss legislation in many fields, including trade, has been brought into line with that of the EU.
But the clearest indication of how matters are on hold is that EU membership no longer figures as a government goal - membership is now termed "an option".
"But there are increasing fears in London that an impatient EU will want to make an example of Britain to discourage others thinking about a referendum of their own."This is the tyranny of the left. If you exercise your god given and constitutional right to be sovereign and separate, then they will punish you in as many ways as they can possibly think of. It is socialism at it's core. If anything my fellow western Europeans, this knee-jerk, vindictive reprisal should prove two things to anyone paying attention.
1) - It was most definitely the right move. This malicious response proves the inherent totalitarian nature of the EU leadership and structure. and...
2) - The rest of the countries in the EU that are chomping at the bit to follow suit should do exactly that...and do it soon! The EU is blowing smoke up your bum to scare you into submission. Never give up your sovereignty! Never give up your borders! Never give up your culture!
AND FOR A MORE DETAILED DISCUSSION ...