Swiss politicians leave empty handed from Brussels

Maros Sefcovic has been dubbed "Mr Switzerland" by the Swiss media after being given the Swiss mandate in Brussels. Keystone / Olivier Hoslet

A delegation of Swiss parliamentarians has made little progress in solving political tensions between Switzerland and the European Union during a trip to Brussels.

This content was published on September 9, 2021

The cross-party group met on Wednesday with Maros Sefcovic, the EU Commissioner who is newly responsible for the continuing dialogue with Switzerland.

Relations between Bern and Brussels hit a low point in June when Switzerland called off negotiations on establishing a new set of framework conditions for future bilateral ties.

The Swiss parliamentary group had hoped to find a new path towards restoring Swiss links with the EU, notably Switzerland’s readmission to the Horizon Europe research programme.

Despite offering the potential olive branch of resuming cohesion payments for less well-off EU states, the latest Swiss overtures failed to find a breakthrough.

Ball in Swiss court

“Our relationship deserves better than a lack of prospects,” Sefcovic tweeted. “The EU Commission will do its part once we hear how Switzerland envisages to engage with us. Need to ensure a level playing field for our citizens and businesses.”

The Swiss delegation was in sombre mood after the meeting. “We won’t be leaving any further ahead,” Swiss People’s Party parliamentarian Thomas Aeschi told the Le Matin newspaper. “We have again observed that there are significant differences between us.”

Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis had also drawn a similar blank during a visit to Brussels in July.

On Thursday, some sections of the Swiss media interpreted the appointment of Sefcovic to handling Swiss relations as an indication that EC President Ursula von der Leyen has had enough of Switzerland for the time being.

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