- Strong interest in cooperating with Switzerland as a like-minded partner
- Relationship between the EU and Switzerland is currently unbalanced
- Model based on individual bilateral agreements instead of a package agreement is outdated
The European Union and Switzerland need a new package agreement that would generate trust, stability, jobs and welfare, say Foreign Affairs Committee in a new report.
In a report adopted on Tuesday, MEPs on the Foreign Affairs Committee call on the EU and Switzerland to establish a modernised relationship, underpinned by an ambitious agreement, which would reduce barriers to trade and create a level playing field for EU citizens and economic operators.
Such a framework, based on a package agreement, should generate trust, stability, jobs and welfare, ensure that workers’ rights are guaranteed and protect consumers and the environment, say MEPs.
Switzerland is a like-minded partner
The report highlights the EU’s strong interest in cooperating with Switzerland as a like-minded partner on international peace, security, human rights and defence matters, in particular in response to Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine. It also welcomes Switzerland’s alignment with the related EU sanctions and the country’s adoption of all EU sanction packages so far.
The report emphasises the strong economic, social and cultural links that several EU countries bordering Switzerland have with the country and underlines that stable relations and frameworks are vital for future cross-border cooperation.)
A solution for all institutional and structural matters is needed
MEPs regret the Swiss Federal Council’s decision to terminate the negotiations on the EU-Swiss Institutional Framework in May 2021 after seven years of negotiations, which was essential for Switzerland’s further participation in the single market and the continuation of frictionless trade in several industry sectors, and which also affected Switzerland’s participation in the Erasmus+ programme. MEPs also note that the model based on individual bilateral agreements instead of a package agreement is outdated and that numerous agreements need to be revisited to provide legal certainty and to consolidate and further develop EU-Swiss relations. MEPs urge Switzerland to uniformly apply the relevant EU rules and comply with obligations under various agreements, in particular as regards posted workers and needed flanking measures. They also underline the importance of an effective dispute settlement and stress Switzerland’s contribution is key to EU cohesion policy.
The report notes that the relationship between the EU and Switzerland is currently unbalanced, with citizens and businesses affected by the absence of a structural relationship. Noting that the Swiss Federal Council has approved key parameters for a negotiation mandate, MEPs call on the European Commission and the Swiss Federal Council to use this short window of opportunity to reach an agreement on a possible new negotiation package before the end of the current European Commission and European Parliament’s term. In this context, MEPs note with regret that the Swiss Federal Council will only decide whether to prepare for the adoption of a negotiating mandate by the end of 2023.
The report was adopted by 51 votes in favour, 3 against and no abstentions.
The rapporteurLukas Mandl (EPP, Austria) said: “This report intends to take a broader view of joint opportunities for the EU and Switzerland. In the past, opportunities in the fields of geopolitics and security have been missed and those in research and innovation have been underestimated. The EU institutions and Switzerland need to dig deeper into these areas. We want to establish more mutual confidence based on more transparency, for instance in the internal market with a common court guaranteeing fairness, or on the advantages for the economy and the labour market. In the new geopolitical order, the EU and Switzerland will need each other more than ever before."
The report will now be submitted to a vote in the European Parliament as a whole at one of the next plenary sessions.