One year after breaking off talks to restructure Switzerland’s agreements with Brussels, the leaders of Switzerland’s Socialist Party have put forward a plan on how Switzerland could eventually join the EU, reports RTS.
A 32-page document sets out a strategy that unites the party on the issue, something that has divided it for many years. The part of the party supported by unions has long feared an influx of EU workers would undermine pay, while many others in the party were more focused on the benefits of integrating Switzerland into the bloc.
The document sets out the advantages and disadvantages of becoming part of the EU. The advantages cited include participation in decisions in Brussels, the EU’s more advanced climate policies, and more stable cooperation on research and education. On the negative side it cites required reforms to Switzerland’s system of direct democracy, the need to double VAT, and the pressure that Switzerland’s public service sector would experience as it was exposed to EU competition.
Overall the party sees a net benefit, arguing that Europe is heading towards becoming more socialist, more ecological and more democratic, conditions that appeal to the party.
However, public opinion is at odds with this perspective. A poll published in 2020 showed only 7% were favourable to Switzerland joining the EU. This does not discourage the party which sees the current position as only the beginning of a long journey. Cédric Wermuth, the party’s co-head, said there are no guarantees, but we feel now is the time to reopen a path to Europe.
The plan contains three phases. The first is to sort out Switzerland’s participation in Horizon Europe and Erasmus between now and the end of 2023. The second is to reach an economic agreement by 2028 and then open negotiations to join the EU. The most optimistic members hope to see membership by the end of the decade. Others have their hopes pinned on membership 20 years from now.