France asks Switzerland to give up ‘old recipes’ in EU negotiations

French ambassador warns Switzerland it risks being left behind unless it compromises Keystone / Michael Buholzer

The French ambassador to Switzerland warns that the Alpine nation risks being left behind if it does not compromise with the European Union. 

This content was published on December 28, 2021 minutes

In an interview published in the Le Temps paper on Tuesday, Frédéric Journès said that the framework agreement, rejected by Switzerland in May, will be back on the table in the next six months. The EU was waiting for the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos to restart negotiations. This has now been postponed to the summer of 2022 following the cancellation of WEF and current focus on containing the Omicron variant. 

"The health situation has deteriorated and it is important that EU Commission’s Vice-President Maros Sefcovic and Swiss President Ignazio Cassis have an exchange of views," said Journès.

The ambassador said the Swiss government must act and expects the dossier to progress. According Journès, Brussels is awaiting Swiss proposals on the key subjects of common rights and obligations, dispute settlement and the reframing of the application of certain agreements on the free movement of workers.

These issues did not disappear with the rejection of the framework agreement by the Swiss, warned Journès. "Those who believe this and say so are mistaken."

No special role

Switzerland’s neighbour will not play a special role in the Switzerland-EU dossier, despite assuming the rotating EU presidency. The ambassador said that France will not force anyone's hand but will nudge the process along by encouraging compromise and moving the agenda forward.

However, Journès warned that Switzerland risks being left behind if it doesn’t play ball. 

"The EU is building a new train, which is crucial for the future of Swiss business," he said. "But Switzerland will not be able to join this train if it remains hitched to the old bilateral locomotive of 1999. Believing in the old recipes means not thinking about the future.”

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