Internationalisation of public policies


In Switzerland, as elsewhere, the conduct of public policy is characterised by a “growing influence of international issues” (J. Fournier, 1996). The first of these issues is, without doubt, the dwindling importance of national frontiers, due to globalisation and (in Europe) growing European integration. This change has transformed the conditions under which national policies are defined and implemented. Thus, market integration and capital mobility have brought about increased competition between economic regions and generated new constraints on the development of economic, social and fiscal policies. Likewise, decision-makers can no longer ignore the transnational nature of numerous public policy problems, such as climate change or irregular migration.

The growth of international cooperation, which is tightly linked to these developments, constitutes a second factor in the internationalisation of public policies. The tasks of economic governance and the definition of coordinated responses to challenges which transcend borders have, to a great extent, been confided to international or supranational organisations (OCDE, European Union), to informal fora (the Basel Committee) or to transnational networks. Their impressive regulatory output—treaties, standards, codes of conduct, etc.—has become a major element of the ecosystem within which public policy is framed, designed and implemented.

The present course aims to provide participants with the analytical tools needed to understand how international factors affect Swiss public policies. It explains these factors (globalisation, international governance, European integration) and their manifold influences (e.g. inspiration from foreign models, implementing international standards, economic constraints, etc.),  from political and legal perspectives. To do this, the course adopts a combination of theoretical and practical approaches, integrating reflection on concepts with an in-depth study of six selected policies. The combination of legal and politological approaches is one of its strong points.


  • Understanding globalisation and its real or supposed effects on State autonomy
  • Apprehending international and transnational governance: its different forms, decisional processes, legal framework and normative outputs
  • Acquiring a solid understanding of the European project: its institutions, laws and principal works in progress, as well as Switzerland’s position with regard to that project
  • Mastering the legislative and legal techniques used to adapt to, adopt and implement international and European standards and laws
  • Analysing the direct and indirect repercussions that globalisation, increased international cooperation and the project of European integration have on Switzerland’s law and public policies
  • Applying the analytical tools acquired throughout the course to selected sectors and topics

Target audience

  • Participants in the MAS in Public Administration (MPA)
  • Political leaders, administrative executives and policy makers at the federal, cantonal and communal levels
  • Employees in international organisations and NGOs
  • Company executives and journalists
  • Any other persons interested in understanding the international context within which Switzerland’s public policies are designed and implemented


  • French is the main teaching language for this program
  • More information available on the corresponding pages
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Course Manager
Prof. Francesco Maiani
Centre of Comparative, European and International Law
CH-1015 Lausanne
+41 21 692 27 91

Studies Secretariat
+41 21 692 68 13

Rue de la Mouline 28 - CH-1022 Chavannes-près-Renens
Tel. +41 21 692 68 00
Fax +41 21 692 68 09