The ‘Suivi de Zurich’ (The Zurich Process)

The Suivi de Zurich 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. Switzerland holds the Suivi de Zurich 2021-2022 presidency.

The matter of road traffic safety became particularly pressing following the tragic accidents in the Mont Blanc (1999), Tauern (1999) and St Gotthard (2001) Alpine tunnels. Against this background, the transport ministers of Austria, France, Germany and Italy, on Switzerland’s initiative, adopted a joint declaration on 30 November 2001 (later known as the ‘Zurich Declaration’) to undertake joint efforts to improve traffic safety in the Alps and promote the modal shift of traffic from road to rail. The Suivi de Zurich was established on the basis of this declaration and brings together the signatory states, with Slovenia joining in 2006, followed by Liechtenstein in 2012.

To achieve the objectives set out in the declaration, the Suivi de Zurich 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. Four working groups are currently active:

Swiss presidency

Switzerland holds the Suivi de Zurich presidency for the 2021–2022 period. The presidency is taking 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, since the effects of global warming are much more pronounced here than in other areas of Europe. In the light of this, it is crucial to work towards making the Alps climate-neutral and resilient. The Suivi de Zurich is a suitable framework to achieve this, since it provides its members with an ideal platform for seeking joint solutions to decarbonise the road transport sector, which is responsible for a significant volume of Europe’s CO2 emissions. For this reason, the main focus of Switzerland’s presidency is on sustainability, with particular emphasis on promoting and developing the modal shift of freight and passenger traffic from road to rail. Switzerland also holds the presidency of the Alpine Convention during the same period. This dual presidency provides a good opportunity for developing synergies between the transport and environment sectors.