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EU Commission receives green light for negotiations with Switzerland

Updated at 12 Mar 2024 4:50 pm

The EU Commission can negotiate with Bern on future relations between the EU and Switzerland. The EU member states approved the EU Commission's mandate for negotiations with Switzerland on Tuesday.

The Commission is to negotiate with Switzerland in a package approach on future relations between the two parties, as the Council of the European Union announced on Tuesday. The aim is to update and deepen relations and enable companies to compete fairly in the internal market. The Council also published the negotiating guidelines.

These provide for institutional provisions. For example, EU law relating to internal market agreements is to be interpreted uniformly by the European Court of Justice (ECJ). The EU also wants Switzerland to dynamically adapt its law in the area of agreements. National procedures are to be guaranteed.

The institutional provisions should cover both the new and existing agreements relating to the internal market. Without these provisions, Switzerland should not be guaranteed extended access to the internal market.

Exception for wage protection to be made possible

According to the mandate, both parties should agree on a "fair" cohesion contribution from Switzerland to the EU. Such payments are a key counterpart to Switzerland's participation in the single market. Switzerland would also have to contribute financially to the programs in which it participates.

The EU member states want to allow Switzerland certain exceptions to the agreements on the free movement of persons and overland transport. For example, Switzerland is likely to implement measures to protect wages and social security. With regard to rail traffic, purely domestic traffic should also be excluded from a future agreement.

EU Commissioner wants to negotiate quickly

The EU Commission welcomed the adoption of its negotiating mandate by the Council of the European Union. The mandate confirms the EU's interest in modernizing the partnership with Switzerland, Vice-President of the Commission Maros Sefcovic was quoted as saying.

With the upcoming negotiations, both parties could take a "historic step" for their relations. Sefcovic wants to keep his foot on the "gas pedal". The negotiations are beneficial for both sides, not least in the "new geopolitical reality".

After the Federal Council adopted its mandate last Friday, both sides now have a mandate. Negotiations are set to begin this month, as announced by both the Federal Council and the Commission. The negotiations on the individual components of the package are being conducted in parallel by the EU Commission and the Federal Council.

©Keystone/SDA

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