The draft report 'Assessment of Swiss–EU relations' provides an overview of current bilateral Swiss-EU relations and reviews the current state of exploratory talks with the EU. In the report, the Federal Council recognises the EU's crucial role as a global player and the significant benefits for Switzerland of the single market and the various cooperation programmes that exist with the EU.
The EU is Switzerland's main trading partner, and Switzerland is the EU's fourth-largest trading partner. Switzerland and the EU share the same fundamental values. The Federal Council notes that European policy is interest-driven policy, and that Swiss interests begin in and with Europe. In the current global situation, characterised by multiple crises, secure and stable relations between Switzerland and the EU are becoming more important than ever. They guarantee prosperity and stability for both parties.
Continuing the bilateral approach
The report takes stock of the bilateral approach and evaluates Switzerland's current options for action on European policy on the basis of four criteria: access to the single market, opportunities for cooperation, political room for manoeuvre and feasibility in terms of foreign policy. The available options are: a free trade relationship, a continuation of the bilateral approach, EEA accession, and EU accession. The Federal Council concludes in the report that the bilateral approach remains the best solution for Switzerland.
The report was written concurrently with the ongoing exploratory talks with the European Commission. On 23 February, the Federal Council had laid out the main lines of the negotiating package. The report also covers the Federal Council's intentions and the exploratory talks that are now under way. It notes that the political talks between Switzerland and the EU have enabled the two sides to build trust; furthermore, their technical talks have resulted in a common understanding of the package approach proposed by the Federal Council.
It also describes the progress made to date and highlights the outstanding issues raised by the Federal Council on 23 November in its assessment of the exploratory talks. The report takes into account that before Switzerland and the EU can start negotiations, they must find sufficient common ground. Accordingly, the exploratory talks are to be actively continued.
The Federal Council's decision to adopt the report was taken subject to the outcome of the consultation of the foreign affairs committees of both chambers of Parliament. The Federal Council thereby responded to Parliament's repeated calls to be more closely involved in Swiss European policy. The Federal Council will formally adopt the report once the consultation process is concluded. The Federal Assembly has adopted a number of parliamentary procedural requests to which the Federal Council has responded with this report.
Address for enquiries:
Federal Department of Foreign Affairs FDFA
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