No ‘status quo’ without Swiss-EU framework deal, EU envoy warns

Petros Mavromichalis is the ambassador of the European Union to Switzerland © Keystone / Alessandro Della Valle

Without a framework agreement there is no possible status quo in relations between Switzerland and the European Union, according to the bloc’s envoy in Bern.

This content was published on May 8, 2021 minutes

EU Ambassador Petros Mavromichalis warns there will be no new deals on access to the EU single market and that expiring agreements will not be renewed.

"It is the chronicle of a death foretold," he told French-language newspaper Le Temps in an interview published Saturday.

Switzerland can certainly reject the institutional agreement, the ambassador points out, "but we are also sovereign and can say 'no' to the continuation of the current bilateral path". 

As a non-member of the European Union, Switzerland’s economic ties with the 27-member bloc are governed by a patchwork of 120 bilateral accords, which give it many benefits of membership. 

  + Swiss blame EU for impasse on framework deal

The EU would like to formalise future ties and institutional issues in an overarching framework agreement with Bern but talks on this matter have dragged out for seven years. Stumbling blocks include the definition of the free movement of people and labour market regulations

In a separate interview, published by the German-language Schweiz am Wochenende, the diplomat said the EU is doing everything it can to iron out the remaining sticking points.

"We need an institutional basis for participation in our internal market," and Switzerland must respect this, Mavromichalis stressed. 

The diplomat recalls that the bilateral agreements were created as a transitional solution after Switzerland rejected the European Economic Area (EEA) in 1992. "At that time, Switzerland was a candidate for membership," he notes, adding that Brussels respects the fact that for Bern, membership is no longer a consideration.

European affairs ministers are due to discuss Switzerland, including the framework agreement, on May 11, according to their provisional agenda. The Swiss government, in turn, is expected to give its position.

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