Last week, negotiations between Switzerland and the EU ended after failure to find agreement on key elements of a deal governing the relationship between Switzerland and the bloc.
Over the weekend, Switzerland’s president Guy Parmelin defended the abrupt break in negotiations and sent a clear message to EU strategists in Brussels. Speaking to the newspaper NZZ am Sonntag Parmelin said that the EU would harm itself if it sank trade relations with one of its most important trading partners.
It is not in the European Union’s interests to punish Switzerland, warned the Swiss president.
Last Wednesday, Switzerland ended a seven-year effort to negotiate a new framework agreement with the EU to replace the more than 120 bilateral deals which form the basis of the current relationship.
Parmelin, who is also the economics minister, aimed to soothe the situation by presenting the collapsed talks as having created clarity. Had we continued to negotiate with no prospect of success it would have led to an extended period of uncertainty. Now we know that this contract isn’t possible, he said.
Some time ago the EU barred the Swiss stock exchange from trading EU shares and raised doubts about whether Switzerland would be allowed to continue its participation in the Horizon Europe research programme and Erasmus student exchange scheme.
Switzerland hit back by blocking Swiss company share trading on EU stock exchanges. It also withheld a CHF 1 billion payment to the EU cohesion fund.
Parmelin called for an end to the tit for tat exchange. Kicking Switzerland out of the Horizon Research scheme would weaken Europe. Taking research hostage does not serve anyone, he said. You don’t needle someone if you are aiming reach a win-win solution, he added.
NZZ article (in German)
For more stories like this on Switzerland follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
Switzerland is a landlocked country surrounded by the EU. What could the Swiss do if the EU decided to block access? e.g. close all borders, road, river, rail, field and forest crossings, plus make the EU a no-fly zone, banned all of its inhabitants from coming here to live, work, party, go on holiday. If the EU wants to get tough, it can. Nothing the Swiss can do.