Since Switzerland broke off talks with the EU on closer integration in May 2021, some within government have been looking for ways to send a positive signal to the bloc.
On 30 September 2021, the Swiss government agreed to pay around CHF 1 billion to Brussels with no strings attached. 131 versus 55 members of parliament voted in favour with 1 abstention, to make this payment.
However, this week, a proposal to increase the sum to CHF 2 billion was rejected by 93 versus 84 in parliament, reported RTS.
The increase was to be paid in return for Brussels readmitting Switzerland into the Horizon Europe, Digital Europe, ITER, Euratom and Erasmus+ programmes.
There were concerns about the change of tack. The first payment had no strings attached. Following this payment with a conditional one would be inconsistent with the original position.
Others were concerned about the timing. Paying out a billion francs during a period of budgetary uncertainty in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic could be dangerous. In addition, some didn’t like the suggestion that everything could be bought including the favour of the EU.