EU-Swiss talks on ice
Prospects for a new treaty formalising ties between Switzerland and the European Union, its biggest trading partner, appeared bleak after four years of negotiations failed to produce a effect by the EU mid-October deadline.
The talks are complicated by the UK negotiations on departure terms from the European Union, with the Commission being reluctant to be too flexible to the Swiss demands, setting a precedent for Britons.
“I can honestly say I find it difficult to believe that the government will be able to present by year’s end a solution to all the open questions,” Petra Goessi, leader of the pro-business Liberals party in the four-party cabinet, told the Neue Zuercher Zeitungn paper.
Brussels has been mounting pressure on Switzerland to agree on a frame that would assemble the 120 accords in different sectors and subsequently lead the Swiss to endorse changes to adapt to Single market.
It would aim at aligning to five areas of the Single market: free movement of people, civil aviation, land transport, mutual recognition of industrial standards and processed farm goods.
The treaty would also provide a more powers to the EU while resolving disputes, and providing clarity of procedures.
Should treaty talks fail, and time is short ahead of elections in Switzerland and for the European Parliament both due next year, the existing accords would stay in place, but bilateral EU-Swiss ties would enter a low-tide phase.
The fate of the EUR1.3 billion Swiss donation to EU cohesion fund to develop the EU Eastern member-states was unclear since last year. Although Swiss politicians deny the tit-for-tat approach there is a clear correlation between funds donation and opportunities for Helvetic banks in operating within euro zone.