Switzerland maintains close bilateral relations with its neighbouring countries. There are active political, social and economic exchanges with Germany, France, the Principality of Liechtenstein, Italy and Austria. This is particularly true of the border regions. These strong links also require close coordination across national borders. In order to support the important bilateral relations with neighbouring countries on the parliamentary side, five standing delegations of the Federal Assembly maintain contact with the German Bundestag, the French, Italian and Austrian parliaments and the parliament of the Principality of Liechtenstein. The activities of the individual delegations vary depending on the priorities set by the delegation leadership, current challenges and the political situation in the neighbouring country. The mandate of the delegations is based on Art. 4 and Art. 8 of the Federal Assembly Ordinance on International Parliamentary Relations (OIPR) of 28 September 2012 (Status as of 2 December 2019) (SR 171.117).

The five delegations are required to submit a written report on their activities to Parliament at least once per legislature period (see Art. 9 OIPR). To ensure the coherence of parliamentary efforts in foreign policy, a coordination conference is held at least once a year with all delegation and foreign policy committee presidents.

The delegations for relations with parliaments of neighbouring states should not be confused with the parliamentary friendship groups, which maintain contacts with other countries, groups of countries or regions. The latter are not official bodies, are not financed by the Federal Assembly and receive only limited administrative support. As a result, parliamentary friendship groups cannot act on behalf of the Federal Assembly (see Art. 63 of the Parliament Act (ParlA) SR 171.10).