EU wants Swiss roadmap in place early next year

Šefčovic wants talks to intensify between the EU and Switzerland. Afp Or Licensors

The European Union says it wants to establish a concrete plan to re-open bilateral talks with Switzerland next year.

This content was published on November 15, 2021 minutes

Maroš Šefčovič, the European Commission Vice-President responsible for Swiss relations and for Brexit, said the two sides would “intensify” efforts to get back around the negotiating table, according to the Neue Zürcher Zeitung newspaper.

This follows a decision by Switzerland in May to walk away from talks to establish a new set of rules governing future bilateral relations.

The EU has taken a tough stance, relegating Switzerland’s status in the Horizon Europe and Erasmus+ education and research programmes and banning its stock exchange from trading EU shares.

Šefčovič appeared to strike a more conciliatory tone in his meeting with Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis in Brussels on Monday.

For his part, Cassis tweeted: “We took stock of the state of Swiss-EU relations and agreed to establish high-level political dialogue to develop the way forward.”

"The two sides agreed to establish a structured political dialogue at ministerial level. The common goal is to take stock of the situation and work out a common agenda," read a Swiss government statement.

Cassis also pressed Switzerland's case to be fully integrated back into Horizon Europe and Erasmus+.

Both politicians agreed to meet again at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January to take stock of the situation again.

At stake are dozens of bilateral agreements already existing between Switzerland and the EU and future access to the EU’s electricity market.

Standing in the way of progress are three main issues: salary protection, state aid rules, and the access of EU citizens to Swiss social security benefits.

Šefčovič said he expects progress to be made before Switzerland stages its national elections in autumn 2023. And while he welcomed the recent release of a CHF1.3 billion ($1.4 billion) cohesion fund payment, he insisted that such payments should continue without further delays.

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