EU ambassador: framework deal will not be reopened

Mavromichalis took up the posting in Bern in 2020. Keystone / Alessandro Della Valle

The EU has no intention of re-opening parts of the framework agreement it has been negotiating with Switzerland for years, the bloc’s ambassador in Bern has told the SonntagsBlick newspaper.

This content was published on February 7, 2021 - 13:35

Petros Mavromichalis said that as far as the European Union is concerned, “the negotiations are finished”. “What we won’t do is reopen the controversial dossiers,” he said.

A draft deal between the pair was provisionally reached in 2018, but progress on signing has since been stalled by Swiss misgivings about sovereignty and rules in three key areas: wage protection, state aid, and citizenship.

Although Mavromichalis said the EU could offer Switzerland “assurances”, he said the bloc had already made plenty of concessions: for example, agreeing on a four-day registration rule for EU companies who want to work in Switzerland.

In this case, the Swiss demand for an eight-day rule was too much, the ambassador said, as is the suggestion that EU companies should pay a deposit before working in Switzerland to cover prospective fines for breaking work rules.

“When you assume that a company is criminal just because it isn’t Swiss, that’s rather insulting,” Mavromichalis said.

He also said that the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice as the top arbiter of legal issues in the single market was “sacrosanct”, and that there was no question of Switzerland securing an exception from this.

Should Swiss voters decide in a referendum to go against an individual ruling of the ECJ, the EU would have to accept it, he said – but Switzerland would then have to pay “compensation” to the bloc for infringing single market rules.

Various figures have been making statements about the progress of negotiations in recent weeks, including foreign minister Ignazio Cassis, and, former EU boss Jean-Claude Juncker.

Switzerland’s chief negotiator with the EU, Livia Leu, has been in Brussels over the past weeks to present the government’s position. For Mavromichalis, a solution could be possible “within the coming weeks”.

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