The Swiss Times - Swiss News in English

Federation of Trade Unions and SVP oppose EU negotiating mandate

The mandate adopted by the Federal Council for the negotiations with the EU is criticized by the SVP and the trade unions. The employee associations and the SP criticize in particular the lack of wage protection, while the SVP fears that Switzerland is "submitting" to the EU.

For the Swiss Federation of Trade Unions (SGB), the path taken by the Federal Council is "not viable". The Federal Council is giving its negotiators the authority to relinquish parts of the accompanying measures in the negotiations without any binding assurances as to how the resulting gaps in wage protection will be closed. The umbrella organization Travail Suisse also announced that it would not support any negotiation outcome that would weaken wage protection or public services.

Meanwhile, the SP welcomes the fact that negotiations on the Bilaterals III could begin with the decision on the final negotiating mandate. However, the party stated on Friday that European policy "must not be misused by the conservatives and business associations to attack public services and wage and working conditions".

However, according to a statement on Friday, the Swiss Federation of Master Builders (SBV) did not see wage protection as an obstacle to the negotiations. At the same time, the Swiss Transport Workers' Union (SEV) is critical of the fact that negotiations are being held on a "controlled opening" in rail transport.

The SVP, on the other hand, spoke of "window-dressing", as the Federal Council was prepared to largely meet the EU's demands in the so-called "Common Understanding" of the negotiating mandate, the party announced on Friday. The Federal Council accepts "the automatic adoption of EU law, submission to the EU Court of Justice and billions in payments to the EU".

The Pro Switzerland movement sounded the same horn and announced that it wanted to "campaign with all its might against the cession of the people's direct democratic rights". The EU decides, the EU gives orders, the EU judges and Switzerland pays, it continued.

Center, FDP and cantonal governments wait and see

Meanwhile, the Swiss Greens see the adoption of the negotiating mandate with the EU announced by Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis as an opportunity for Switzerland. However, more is needed, as Switzerland is lagging behind in many areas in which the EU is making progress, such as climate protection.

Regulated relations between Switzerland and the EU are crucial, wrote the center on X. The bilateral path must be successfully led into the future. At the same time, the FDP announced on X that it would assess the outcome of the negotiations when it was available. Switzerland needs solid and regulated relations with Europe.

In an initial reaction to the adoption of the negotiating mandate, the Conference of Cantonal Governments (KdK) emphasized the importance of a good exchange with the EU and its member states. It was also essential that access to the Horizon Europe and Erasmus+ research and education programs be restored.

These programs are of central importance for the economy and renowned competence centers such as ETH Zurich, EPFL and the Paul Scherrer Institute. The Association of Swiss Student Bodies (VSS) and the European Movement of Switzerland (EBS) agreed.

Operation Libero welcomed the adopted mandate: Switzerland "urgently needs a long-term solution" to secure the individual freedoms that access to the single market and the free movement of persons would provide.

Economy welcomes progress

The business umbrella organization Economiesuisse sees the adoption of the negotiating mandate by the Federal Council as an important cornerstone for negotiations with the EU. The Bilaterals III could stabilize and further develop bilateral relations, Economiesuisse announced on Friday. This creates legal certainty and strengthens Switzerland as a business location.

The national grid operator Swissgrid also welcomed the EU negotiating mandate adopted by the Federal Council. This is an important step towards strengthening grid and supply security. Legal certainty and Switzerland's ability to help shape the European electricity system would also be strengthened, it said in a statement on Friday.

Meanwhile, stable relations with the EU are key for Switzerland's largest export industry, wrote the trade association Scienceindustries on X. And the industry association Interpharma emphasized in a press release that by entering into negotiations with the EU, the so-called Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) could be updated to reduce technical barriers to trade. This is of great importance for the industry's exports and security of supply.

©Keystone/SDA

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