Home / Heads of mission  / Europe / Switzerland


Central European Time Zone UTC+01:00

 Capital City Bern

 Currency Swiss franc

National Day 1 August

His Excellency Mr Alexandre Fasel  
Embassy of Switzerland
16/18 Montagu Place
London W1H 2BQ
T: 020 7616 6000
F: 020 7724 7001
E: lon.swissembassy@eda.admin.ch

TAKING UP HIS duties in the UK last September, Switzerland’s new Ambassador Alexandre Fasel fondly recalls his experiences as a Junior Fellow of the Swiss National Science Foundation at Oxford University in the late 1980s. “That time had a tremendous impact on my wife and I in our formative years. We had married just before arriving in the UK and, in a manner of speaking, experienced a wonderful one-year honeymoon here. It has been a joyful experience for us to return to the UK.”

Growing up in a family with a strong tradition of civil servant and political careers, Mr Fasel was aware of a commitment to and interest in public affairs and service from a young age. This “passion for furthering the station of my country and the fate of its inhabitants, notably in the international context, quite naturally influenced my choice of study.” (He specialised in European and International Law.)

His career in the Foreign Service has had three mainstays: firstly, as a young diplomat, when he worked on European integration during the Swiss negotiations to join the European Economic Area. This placed him at the intersection of foreign and domestic policy. A role as special adviser to the Foreign Minister focusing on domestic and parliamentary affairs made for a stimulating working environment. Secondly, he served in two bilateral posts abroad in Canada and Australia. Finally, he was preoccupied with global issues and multilateral diplomacy while working as head of the policy planning staff, as UN Director and as Switzerland’s Permanent Representative to the UN and other international organisations in Geneva.

In this latter role, Mr Fasel was the host state to 35 international organisations and 245 diplomatic missions in Geneva – close to 50,000 people. As such, he explains, the Permanent Representative is responsible for the governance of Geneva as a centre of international diplomacy. “Geneva is the operational hub for international action in fields as diverse as trade, humanitarian assistance, migration, human rights, labour, global health, intellectual property, the environment, telecommunications, education, training and research among others.”

These issues and his experience – in bilateral relations, European integration with its component of internal politics and multilateral diplomacy – converge in a way that is very particular to London. “While tending to bilateral relations is part and parcel of any foreign posting for diplomats, Brexit has put European politics at the centre of British-Swiss relations. The UK’s departure from the EU will have a considerable impact not only on the UK itself and the EU, but also on ‘third countries’ such as Switzerland. Finally, London is a truly ‘global city’, as host to a variety of international organisations, a global financial centre and media of international standing. It is a vibrant platform for setting the agenda for global debates.”

His work here in London, “as a centre of the global economy”, almost certainly benefits from his previous experience working in the banking sector at Credit Suisse during a three-year leave from the Foreign Ministry.

As Ambassador in the UK, Mr Fasel defines his three priorities. The first concerns Brexit. “This development will undoubtedly have a considerable impact on Switzerland, and my aim is to ensure continuity in the strong relationship between our two countries: safeguarding mutual rights and obligations and strengthening bilateral cooperation in all common areas of interest.” His second priority concerns “the place of the UK in the context of the wider field of international governance. To understand and anticipate the role the UK will play on a global scale as a result of leaving the EU, in a time when international relations are in a state of flux.”  A further immediate focus is “to promote Swiss interests within the strong relationship we share with the UK – historically, culturally and economically. Particularly of note today is our common strength in science and innovation.”

Does he believe that Switzerland has some unique advice to offer the UK regarding its relationship with the EU going forward? “The Swiss way – I would not call it a ‘model’ – is interesting not for the specificcontent of our agreements with the EU, but much more so as a methodof our modular cooperation with the EU, sector by sector. In this, we are happy to share our experience.”

Of his career today, Mr Fasel says, “As a diplomat, one should never underestimate the important effect that individual contributions can have on the ground each and every day.” That sounds like a good motto to live by.


  • all
  • Countries and continent
  • articles

Countries and continent