Relations with the EU: Federal Council takes stock and clarifies the negotiating mandate

Press releases, 05.03.2018

At its meeting on 2 March 2018, the Federal Council concluded the analysis it had started on 31 January and continued at its special meeting on 21 February. The object was to take stock of developments in Switzerland's relations with the European Union (EU) by reviewing the four years of negotiations on the institutional questions concerning EU market access. The Federal Council is seeking to improve these access conditions while respecting Swiss institutions and their independence. It thus set out its negotiating strategy and affirmed its commitment to proceed swiftly to ensure legal certainty for the export industry and for the stability of Switzerland's economy and our relations with the EU. The quality of the solutions put forward and the safeguarding of Swiss interests remain the criteria by which the Federal Council will determine the success of the negotiations.

Press conference of the Federal Council on European policy
Press conference of the Federal Council on European policy © DEA

The negotiating mandate of 18 December 2013 was clarified in regard to institutional matters so as to be able to search for an agreement with the EU on an independent arbitration solution for the settlement of disputes. In parallel with negotiations on an institutional agreement, which is not a goal in itself but a tool to manage efficiently the five bilateral agreements concerned by preventing any erosion of their effectiveness, negotiations will continue on the dossiers listed in the annex. In particular, the Federal Council decided on a rapid conclusion of the agreement on participation in the electricity market.

Regarding the issue of dispute settlement, the Swiss negotiators will be seeking an arbitration solution that could be triggered if the joint committee concerned is unable to resolve matters. The Federal Council reaffirmed its resolve to exclude certain fields from the scope of the institutional agreement. It thus wants Switzerland to be able to retain all of its accompanying measures to the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons. The Federal Council also confirmed that it does not want Switzerland to adopt the EU's citizenship directive and its developments.

Concerning state aid, the Federal Council has authorised the relevant departments to work together with the cantons to develop a 'two-pronged' solution that provides for autonomous supervisory bodies for both Switzerland and the EU. The material provisions can only be negotiated in the specific framework of an agreement on Switzerland's participation in the EU's electricity market.

The Federal Council reiterates its opinion that Switzerland fulfils all the conditions for the EU to recognise the equivalence of Switzerland’s stock exchange for an unlimited period.

The parliamentary foreign affairs committees and the Cantons will be promptly notified of these additional clarifications to the negotiating mandate of 18 December 2013.

State Secretary Roberto Balzaretti, as chief coordinator and new head of the Directorate for European Affairs at the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, is responsible for ensuring coordinated progress in the negotiations in agreement with the lead negotiators for the individual dossiers.

Mandates and dossiers include in the coordination (pdf)(pdf, 275kb)

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