Federal Council decides on next steps regarding negotiating mandate

Press releases, 29.03.2023

In a special closed session today, the Federal Council issued the mandate to draw up key parameters for a negotiating mandate with the EU. At the same time, work will continue to clarify common ground with the EU in order to start negotiations. The Federal Council is also having domestic measures drawn up to safeguard wage protection.

The corridors of the Swiss Federal Palace.
Federal Council paves the way for a negotiating mandate with the EU © FDFA

Today, the Federal Council took note of the status of the talks between EU and Swiss representatives and made an in-depth domestic and foreign policy assessment. The Federal Council notes that there is a positive momentum in the talks between Switzerland and the EU at the technical, diplomatic and political levels. The task now is to work out solutions for the remaining outstanding issues, in order to establish common ground for the preparation of a negotiating mandate.

Common foreign policy basis set out

So far, eight rounds of exploratory talks and 19 technical discussions have taken place between the Swiss and EU delegations. These have led to a detailed understanding of both sides' positions and possible solutions in the individual dossiers.

The package approach proposed by the Federal Council continues to serve as the basis for the discussions: instead of a single horizontal agreement regulating institutional issues (e.g. adoption of EU law developments, supervision and dispute settlement), a whole package of new specific agreements (e.g. on electricity, food safety and health) is to be developed. The existing and new single market agreements should each include solutions to the institutional issues within their scope. This approach enables a broad balance of interests and increases the chances of success in any subsequent negotiation.

Domestic political acceptance strengthened

In its discussion today, the Federal Council welcomed the cantons' unanimous statement on European policy of 24 March 2023. The dialogue with the cantons has made it possible to define approaches to solutions for both state aid and immigration issues, which have led to a common understanding with the EU and will now be further elaborated with the EU delegation.

Regarding wage protection, the Federal Council has instructed the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (EAER), in close cooperation with the cantons and the social partners, to draw up proposals that enable the current level of protections on the domestic labour market to be secured with supplementary measures. The Federal Council has also instructed the departments responsible to clarify the outstanding issues relating to electricity, land transport and health.

Key parameters for a negotiating mandate

Based on the positive momentum between Switzerland and the EU, the Federal Council has instructed the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), in cooperation with the Federal Department of Justice and Police (FDJP) and the EAER, to draw up the key parameters of a negotiation mandate by the end of June. At the same time, the state secretary of the FDFA, Livia Leu, has been given the task of finalising the common basis for future negotiations as part of the ongoing talks with the EU. The next round of exploratory talks is scheduled for 20 April in Brussels. Technical talks with the EU continue to take place on a weekly basis.

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