Relations between Switzerland and the EU entered a new phase at the beginning of the year. Following the presidential meeting in Brussels on 6 April, a positive dynamic has developed and work has resumed on a number of ongoing issues. Today Ms Leuthard and Mr Juncker welcomed the good results that have been achieved in a number of areas.
During the visit, Switzerland and the EU signed an agreement enabling them to link their CO2 emissions trading systems (ETS). Yesterday an agreement was initialled in Brussels allowing the Swiss criminal prosecution authorities to access data from the EURODAC database, which has an automated system for the recognition of digital fingerprints of asylum seekers in the Dublin Regulation states.
As regards the agreement on technical barriers to trade (MRA), it was updated over the summer. Scientific and technical cooperation between the Federal Office of Public Health and the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) and the updating of the agreement on insurance are also about to be concluded. Likewise, agreement has been reached for negotiations on Switzerland's cooperation with the European Union Agency for Railways and its participation in the European Global Navigation Satellite Systems Agency (GSA) to go ahead.
Lastly, Ms Leuthard and Mr Juncker also discussed cooperation in the areas of internal security and migration. In particular, they referred to the need for concerted responses to common challenges facing the entire European continent. Ms Leuthard furthermore was informed that Article 23 of MiFIR will be discussed by the European Commission at the beginning of December. Mr Juncker also provided assurance that work on updating existing agreements, including the MRA, and technical discussions on other aspects of financial equivalence would be pursued without hindrance.
The Swiss delegation informed Mr Juncker of the Federal Council's decision to commence the groundwork for a new contribution by Switzerland to reducing economic and social disparities in certain EU member states. This follows on from a previous contribution, the effects of which were judged to be positive for both the beneficiary countries and Switzerland. Recent exploratory consultations with the countries concerned have provided a better identification of needs and interests, particularly in the priority areas of vocational education and training and migration. The Federal Council has mandated the FDFA to prepare a draft document for the consultation procedure, by March 2018 and in collaboration with the EAER and the FDJP, for the implementation of this contribution.
This autonomous contribution, amounting to CHF 1.302 billion over 10 years, is intended to reduce economic and social disparities in Europe, which is in Switzerland's economic and political interest. The increased support for vocational education and training will enable Switzerland's experience in this field to be used to stimulate economic growth and combat youth unemployment in the countries concerned. Migration projects will aim to contribute to better management of migration flows.
Consolidated, stable relations
Ms Leuthard and Mr Juncker reaffirmed Switzerland's and the EU's mutual desire to consolidate and further develop the bilateral approach. From Switzerland's perspective there is still room for progress in several areas of cooperation, however.
The Swiss President informed the President of the European Commission of Switzerland's expectations for swift solutions to be found in a number of ongoing dossiers where open questions remain. These include in particular: strengthening Switzerland's involvement in discussions on the future of the Dublin Regulation; guaranteeing direct access by the Swiss authorities to the EUROPOL database; improving the functioning of Schengen cooperation in the negotiation of complementary agreements; securing Switzerland's participation in the EU framework programme 'Creative Europe' and in the Galileo Public Regulated Service (PRS) programme; concluding rapidly an agreement in the field of public health; continuing work at the technical level on future recognition of equivalence in the area of finance; and taking measures to combat effectively the development of additional barriers to trade between Switzerland and the EU. Rapid progress in these areas will serve the interests of both sides in terms of internal security, financial stability, health security, cultural diversity, growth and employment.
Both parties intend to thus ensure the continuation of stable, predictable and close relations in the long term. To this end, they confirmed their willingness to maintain the objective of concluding negotiations on an agreement that addresses institutional matters. This intention is among the Federal Council's objectives for this year and next year.
Finally, the two delegations discussed other topics of bilateral or common interest such as migration issues, security, foreign policy cooperation and the United Kingdom's departure from the EU. The close cooperation that exists between Switzerland and the EU is appreciated by both sides, they noted.
List of dossiers where progress has been made
Agreement on emissions trading (ETS): enables CO2 emissions trading systems to be linked.
EURODAC: database with an automated system for the recognition of fingerprints of asylum seekers in the Dublin Regulation states.
MRA: agreement on mutual recognition in relation to product conformity assessment. It is an instrument for removing technical barriers to trade.
Scientific and technical cooperation between the Federal Office of Public Health and the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA)
Updating of the agreement on insurance
Switzerland's cooperation with the European Union Agency for Railways
Switzerland's participation in the European Global Navigation Satellite Systems Agency (GSA)
Recognition of the equivalence of Swiss legislation under Article 23 of the Markets in Financial Instruments Regulation (MiFIR)
Switzerland's autonomous contribution to reducing economic and social disparities in selected EU member states
Agreement on institutional matters
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