Rumours abound over Swiss government’s EU ‘framework deal’

The future ties with the EU have caused some head scratching in Switzerland. Keystone/Martin Ruetschi

The Swiss government is apparently set to abandon negotiations with the European Union about an umbrella accord regulating bilateral relations.

This content was published on May 23, 2021 - 16:51

Several Sunday newspapers quoted unnamed sources saying that none of the seven ministers saw any chance of winning over parliament or voters for the so-called framework agreement.

Negotiations on such a deal formally ended in 2018 but the Swiss government demanded ‘clarifications’ on three points, including the protection of salary levels, access to the Swiss social security system as well as state subsidies.

Following talks with EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in Brussels last month, the Swiss president, Guy Parmelin, said fundamental differences remained with the 27-nation bloc about the future of bilateral relations.

Both sides insist on concessions to break an impasse and reach an acceptable solution after more seven years of talks.

The SonntagsBlick newspaper also reports that the EU is apparently willing to make some compromise offers.

It is widely expected that the Swiss government will decide next Wednesday about its position amid concerns about possible retaliatory measures by Brussels over access to the European electricity market and research projects.

Efforts to appease Brussels apparently include the payment of CHF1 billion ($1.1 billion) to an EU fund to ensure Switzerland’s participation in the Erasmus student exchange and research programmes, says the NZZ am Sonntag newspaper.

Switzerland has concluded more than 120 bilateral agreements with its main trading partner, but the EU wants an overarching institutional agreement to simplify relations.

Switzerland is not a member of the EU and voters in 1992 rejected a proposal to join the European Economic Area Treaty.

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