President is ʻconfidentʼ Swiss will agree with EU

Switzerland expects tough negotiations with the European Union about immigration Keystone

Didier Burkhalter is confident that Switzerland will be able to agree on unresolved issues with the European Union, the Swiss president said before the EU Council is set to publish a report about its relationship with Switzerland on Tuesday.

This content was published on December 14, 2014

Burkhalter said in an interview with the Sunday newspaper NZZ am Sonntag that it will be a “difficult road ahead”. He said it is important for the future of the bilateral agreements between Switzerland and the EU that the parties can agree on the open questions.

Many open issues concern the immigration quotas Switzerland has decided to impose on EU nationals in a vote in February. One of the problems will be to find a solution that will be acceptable for all 28 EU states, Burkhalter stated.

Switzerland also only has three years to implement the decision from the initiative. “Unfortunately, the EU knows this too, and it narrows our scope,” Burkhalter said.

One of the options for the Swiss cabinet would be to propose the Swiss people a bundled solution, but if an agreement could be reached in individual issues, the decisions could also be taken in stages, Burkhalter explained.

It is possible that the Swiss people will vote on the implementation of immigration quotas in 2016 and that a framework agreement where institutional questions would be answered would follow later on, Burkhalter said, adding that there is no time pressure on those issues.

At the same time, Burkhalter warned that Switzerland should not get side-tracked and dissipate its energies, but try and tackle the problems as a whole.

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