Switzerland calls for “calm and creativity” to resolve differences with Europe

February 7, 2022

Swiss President Ignazio Cassis called on Sunday for “calm and creativity” to resolve disputes in his country’s relations with the European Union (EU).

He considered that to address future relations with the EU, Switzerland must move away from “purely technical and institutional issues” and focus on content issues.

The situation requires “a little calm and creativity,” he added.

Links between Brussels and Bern have been strained since Switzerland, which is not part of the EU, decided in May 2021 to halt years of discussions around a deal for more cooperation with the bloc.

“It will be only when we have enriched the content, when politics and society recognize the material benefits that Switzerland can expect, that an institutional approach can be accepted,” Cassis told the SonntagsZeitung newspaper.

Talks on a framework agreement stalled after the EU refused to give in to Swiss demands to exclude issues on state aid, wage protections and freedom of movement.

EU-Switzerland ties are currently governed by a series of partial agreements, and for more than a decade they have discussed a global agreement that would harmonize the legal framework of the relationship.

Such an agreement would have included a dispute settlement mechanism.

But Switzerland has refused to accept EU demands for budget contributions and alignment with the bloc’s rules as the price for access to its vast market.

Cassis pointed out that Switzerland should not only think about the European internal market, but also about cooperation in fields such as health, research and culture.

rjm / har / mas / ag