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October 10th, 2021

Switzerland European Union Agreement

Switzerland is a member of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and participated in the negotiations of the Agreement on the European Economic Area (EEA) with the European Union. It signed the agreement on 2 May 1992 and applied for EU membership on 20 May 1992. However, following a Swiss referendum on 6 December 1992, the Swiss government rejected EEA membership by 50.3% to 49.7%[3] and decided to suspend negotiations on EU membership until further notice. These were not taken up and, in 2016, Switzerland formally withdrew its application for EU membership. [4] [5] Following the refusal of EEA membership in 1992, Switzerland and the EU agreed on a set of seven sectoral agreements signed in 1999 (known as “bilateral I” in Switzerland). These include the free movement of persons, technical barriers to trade, public procurement, agriculture and air and land transport. In addition, a scientific research agreement has enabled Switzerland to be fully used in the EU`s research framework programmes. The Swiss federal government has recently made several substantial policy shifts, but specific agreements have been dealt with with the EU on the free movement of workers and areas of tax evasion within the Swiss banking system. This was the result of the first Swiss-EU summit in May 2004, at which nine bilateral agreements were signed. Romano Prodi, former president of the European Commission, said the agreements “have brought Switzerland closer to Europe”. Joseph Deiss of the Federal Council said: “We may not be at the centre of Europe, but we are certainly at the heart of Europe.” He continued: “We are entering a new era of relations between our two entities.” [33] In particular because of the threat of suspension of cohesion payments that Switzerland will have to pay to the new EU Member States over the next ten years, the EU should also be interested in such an agreement. The Council of States and the National Council agreed on the amount of CHF 1.3 billion for cohesion payments, but made payments conditional on the EU`s omission of discriminatory measures such as the withdrawal of Swiss stock exchange equivalence.

A failure of the negotiations would have devastating consequences not only for the Swiss financial centre, but also for exports. Given that around 55% of all Swiss exports are destined for the EU, non-discriminatory access to the European internal market is of great importance to Switzerland. That is why an agreement with the EU as Switzerland`s main trading partner is essential. . . .

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