A special board has been set up to ensure Swiss negotiations with the European Union reflect ground realities.
The sounding board, comprising representatives from the cantons, social partners and the business community, convened for the first time on Tuesday.
The work of this board has been described as twofold. “First, it will promote debate among the main stakeholders and ensure that information is consistent," the foreign ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.
“Second, it will facilitate active, direct exchanges with a view to ensuring that key national actors have greater input into ongoing talks with the EU.”
It will be chaired by Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis. Former State Secretary Mario Gattiker, who has expertise in assessing regulatory differences between Switzerland and the EU, will act as an adviser.
The sounding board will work in tandem with a steering group made up of authorised representatives for all heads of government departments and the Federal Chancellery. The steering group will also be chaired by Cassis and advised by Gattiker. Both bodies will provide feedback on policy affecting bilateral relations between Switzerland the EU.
“The steering group and sounding board will assess the results of the ongoing exploratory talks and determine their acceptability in terms of domestic and foreign policy,” said the official statement.
In 2021 Switzerland unilaterally broke off negotiations with the EU on a framework deal to replace the more than 120 bilateral accords which have regulated relations for the past decades. That led to a souring of relations between Bern and Brussels. Subsequent efforts to break the diplomatic deadlock have not succeeded.
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