Switzerland, EU deal negotiations collapse

·2-min read

Switzerland has scrapped a new planned agreement on bilateral relations with the European Union after seven years of negotiations, with Swiss President Guy Parmelin citing disagreement on crucial points.

There was no majority for the draft treaty, which had been on the table since the end of 2018, Parmelin announced on Wednesday.

"The National Council has established that the talks with the EU in three areas have not led to the necessary solutions. Therefore, the National Council has decided to end the negotiations," he said.

The European Commission said it regretted the unilateral decision by the Swiss government "given the progress that has been made over the last years to make the Institutional Framework Agreement a reality".

The agreement would have been a foundation to further develop EU-Swiss relations, the written statement from the EU executive said.

Switzerland is not a member of the EU but is involved in many European projects through bilateral agreements.

The new framework agreement has been under negotiation since 2014.

Among other things, it should regulate updates and determine how disputes are arbitrated.

But trade unions, constitutional lawyers and the nationalist Swiss People's Party in Switzerland - the strongest faction in the National Council - saw new rules they did not want to accept.

At issue were rules on state aid, measures to protect high Swiss wages and access for EU citizens to Swiss social security funds, among other things.

"Switzerland remains a reliable partner of the European Union," Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis stressed.

Current bilateral treaties would remain in place and talks on new treaties will continue, he said.

But the Swiss move will have far-reaching consequences and bilateral solutions won't be possible on all issues, an EU official said.

The bloc would, for example, not automatically recognise Swiss certificates for medical devices anymore.

If Switzerland wanted to place medical devices on EU markets, it would be treated as any other third country from now on, the official said.

This change will kick in on Wednesday.

And bilateral agreements on electricity and health, for example, were also off the table for now.