The Zurich Process

The Zurich Process provides a platform for transport ministers from the Alpine region to seek joint solutions to various challenges concerning transalpine traffic, including safety, traffic management and the modal shift from road to rail.

The tragic accidents in the Mont Blanc (1999), Tauern (1999) and St Gotthard (2001) Alpine tunnels brought the matter of road traffic safety in transalpine transport to the forefront. At Switzerland’s initiative, the transport ministers of Austria, France, Germany and Italy adopted the Joint Declaration of Zurich in the presence of the European Commission in November 2001. In it, the Alpine countries pledged to undertake joint efforts to improve traffic safety in the Alps and promote the modal shift of traffic from road to rail. The Zurich Process was established on the basis of this declaration and brings together the signatory states, with Slovenia joining in 2006, followed by Liechtenstein in 2012.

The platform comprises a governing body, a steering committee and various working groups. The transport ministers of the Alpine countries form the governing body and usually meet biennially. The steering committee is responsible for the day-to-day management of the platform. Each country takes it in turn to hold the presidency, with Switzerland chairing the platform for the 2021–2022 period. The following working groups are currently active:

Swiss presidency

Switzerland held the presidency of the Zurich Process in 2021–2022. At the same time, it also chaired the Alpine Convention. This dual presidency took place in a political context in which environmental protection and climate change have become urgent and unavoidable matters. The Alpine region is particularly affected by these issues as the effects of global warming are much more tangible here than in other areas of Europe. For this reason, the main focus of Switzerland’s presidency was on sustainability. Particular emphasis was therefore placed on promoting and developing the modal shift of freight and passenger traffic from road to rail.

In October 2022, an action plan for the decarbonisation of transport in the Alpine Region was drawn up at a conference jointly organised by the environment and transport ministries. This will also serve as a framework for the decarbonisation of transport for the following presidencies.