Negotiations between Switzerland and the European Commission for an institutional framework agreement began in 2014 and ended in November 2018. On 7 December 2018, the Federal Council decided not to accept or reject the negotiated agreement, but to opt for a public consultation.  The negotiated agreement would cover five areas of the 1999 EU-Swiss agreements: Switzerland participated in the negotiations of the EEA agreement with the EU, signed it on 2 May 1992 and applied for EU membership on 20 May 1992. In a Swiss referendum on 6 December 1992, membership of the EEA was rejected. Subsequently, the Swiss government suspended EU accession negotiations until further notice. By ratifying the second round of bilateral agreements, the Federal Council in 2006 lowered the characterisation of Switzerland`s full adherence to a „strategic objective“ to an „option“. Membership continued to be the government`s objective and a „long-term goal“ of the Federal Council until 2016, when Switzerland`s request, which had been frozen, was withdrawn.   The request was adopted in June by the Council of States and then by the Bundesrat.    In a letter dated 27 July, the Federal Council informed the Presidency of the Council of the European Union that it was withdrawing its request.  The ongoing implementation of these agreements obliges Switzerland to adopt relevant EU legislation in the covered sectors. The inclusion of bilateral agreements with the European Union allows Switzerland to cooperate closely with the EU by gradually resolving concrete issues and problems. Using specific contractual agreements, the EU and Switzerland have access to market access and cooperate on key issues.
However, unlike full European integration, the bilateral approach does not require Switzerland to accept EU legislation beyond its own. Prior to 2014, the bilateral approach, as it is called in Switzerland, was systematically supported by the Swiss population during referendums. It allows the Swiss to maintain a sense of sovereignty on the basis of regulations when changes in EU law apply only when a common bilateral commission decides it by consensus. It also limits the EU`s influence to the ten areas in which the EEA covers more territories, with more exceptions than the EEA. From the EU`s point of view, the treaties contain largely the same content as the EEA treaties, making Switzerland a virtual member of the EEA. Most EU laws apply throughout the EU, the EEA and Switzerland and offer most of the conditions for the free movement of people, goods, services and capital that apply to Member States. Switzerland contributes to the EU budget. Switzerland has extended bilateral treaties to new EU member states; Any extension required the approval of Swiss voters in a referendum. These bilateral agreements between the EU and Switzerland are currently managed by some 20 joint committees. In 2009, the Swiss voted in favour of extending the free movement of people to Bulgaria and Romania from 59.6% to 40.4%.  While the 2004/38/EC European Directive on the right of free movement and residence does not apply directly to Switzerland, the bilateral agreement between Switzerland and the EU on the free movement of persons has the same rights for both Swiss citizens and eee and their family members.  Following the rejection of EEA membership in 1992, Switzerland and the EU agreed on a set of seven sectoral agreements signed in 1999 (known as „bilateral I“ in Switzerland).