The Cassis de Dijon principle allows the movement on the Swiss market of products not conforming to the Swiss rules and originating from the European Economic Area.
The Cassis de Dijon principle allows movement on the Swiss market of products originating from the European Union (EU) or the European Economic Area (EEA) and not conforming to Swiss technical rules. This is one of the three instruments of the Federal Law on Technical Barriers to Trade (LTBT).
How the Cassis de Dijon principle works
With the Cassis de Dijon principle, companies have the option of moving products, freely and without prior control, between the EU, the EEA and Switzerland, even if they do not satisfy Swiss technical rules. Several conditions must be satisfied however (Art. 16a(1) LTBT):
- The products must satisfy the technical rules of the EU, a Member State or the EEA
- The products must be legally on the market of the EU, a Member State or the EEA
To avoid discrimination, Swiss manufacturers also have the option of manufacturing certain products intended for the Swiss market according to the standards of the EU, a Member State or the EEA.
Exceptions from the Cassis de Dijon principle
The LTBT (Art. 16a (2) provides for several cases where the Cassis de Dijon principle does not apply:
- Products subject to approval
- Substances subject to notification under the legislation on chemical products
- Products requiring a prior import authorization
- Products under an import ban
- Products for which the Federal Council has made an exception
In addition, the Cassis de Dijon principle does not apply either when overriding public interests are at stake.
To simplify the task of importers, the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) has put online a list of products not covered by the Cassis de Dijon principle, called the “negative list”. Continually updated, it is not definitive or exhaustive.
The Cassis de Dijon principle is subject to specific regulation in the case of foodstuffs. Unlike other products, foodstuffs require authorization from the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) before their first marketing. It is for the importer to prove that the foodstuff satisfies the standards of the EU, a Member State or the EEA, and to establish that it is legally on the export market (Cassis de Dijon principle (FSVO)).