Swiss minister hopes for resumption of talks with EU
Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis says talks with the European Union on an accord governing bilateral relations will resume shortly.
Negotiations on possible amendments to a proposed umbrella agreement as demanded by Switzerland could start in the coming days, Cassis told parliamentarians on Wednesday.
The Swiss government finalised its position seven weeks ago but it did not reveal details, arguing it wanted to protect its own interests.
It is widely thought that the government has asked for talks on several points, notably guaranteed salary levels, subsidies and welfare benefits.
“The government will only sign an institutional agreement if solutions are found for all the open questions,” Cassis told the House of Representatives.
Negotiations are aimed at breaking an impasse on the future of bilateral relations between non-EU Switzerland and its biggest trading partner.
The government has struggled to forge domestic consensus on the treaty negotiated two years ago. The accord has still not been ratified by the government.
In October, the Swiss government appointed Livia Leu as the new chief negotiator with Brussels, but she has not held any formal talks.
Earlier this year Swiss voters threw out a proposal to scrap a key accord with Brussels and tighten curbs on immigration from the EU.
Right-wing plans rejected
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives on Wednesday rejected proposals by the right-wing Swiss People’s Party.
The group with its anti-EU agenda wanted the government to formally abandon the project of a framework accord with the EU or to ask for firm guarantees on specific points in the talks.
The Senate is likely to discuss similar proposals on Thursday and reject them too.
Several other political parties have also voiced reservations about the proposed framework accord but they are willing to wait for the outcome of the negotiations.
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