In parallel to the pull and tug of the past few years between London and Brussels, Switzerland and the EU have sought to close a framework agreement which to systematize the access to the common market, and to streamline the incorporation of community directives into the legislation helvetica. An agreement whose final approval takes months at a stalemate. “We ask for a little more flexibility to the new Commission by Ursula von der Leyen,” says Roberto Balzaretti (Mendrisio, 54 years), secretary of the swiss State for European Affairs during an interview with THE COUNTRY in December in Madrid.
The negotiating teams of both parties agreed in November 2018, a text that today is still far from being ratified. After six months of consultation“with parliamentary committees, cantons, trade unions, employers and academics”—, the swiss Government requested the then president of the Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, a few “clarifications” about the three issues that hinder the consensus to bring forward the covenant in Switzerland. The luxembourg, which had set itself the objective of adopting the framework agreement before it expired its mandate, closed the door to renegotiation.
“What happened right after was not the best thing to strengthen our relationship,” says Balzaretti. The secretary of State referred to the decision of Brussels to deny the Bag swiss the call equivalence stock with the regulations of the EU, a measure of pressure from investors based in member countries of the EU cannot buy or sell shares on the trading floor in Zurich.
Balzaretti remember that Switzerland (8.5 million inhabitants) is the third trade partner of the EU —only behind USA and China— and argues that the Government's intention to swiss is “to deepen the bilateral relationship, in addition to share and defend the european values: the rule of law, the protection of women and of minorities, the fight against climate change, security and peace on the continent...”.
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A key point of friction between Berne and Brussels is the reference to workers temporarily displaced by their companies from eu countries. The EU aims to develop a flexible standard switzerland, that demands notice and respect the high wage level in the country. “We need to protect our working conditions and salaries. It is the most vulnerable to those who we protect with our actions”, he argues.
Another issue that has raised blisters during the rounds of consultations in Switzerland is the expansion of certain rights to the european residents in its territory. “We make a distinction between the free movement of citizens, which involves the member States of the EU, and the free movement of workers, an issue on which Switzerland does not have an agreement with Brussels.Our standards are not identical for all eu citizens in the areas of social assistance,” he explains. Nearly 1.5 million community living in Switzerland; German, Italian and Portuguese are the nationalities from the majority. The secretary of State added that another problematic issue of this package regulatory is referred to the expulsion of the europeans convicted in a criminal case.
The regulation of state aid, with the aim of not distorting competition, it is the third and last hurdle. “Many sectors reject that these standards may have an impact on areas in which Switzerland has no access to the internal market of the EU”, explains Balzaretti.
The swiss Government intends to wrench concessions to Von der Leyen that pave the way to ratification. The rejection of the current text of several parties —including the populist right-wing of the SVP, which he revalidated his status to force a majority in the October elections— complicate the future approval in the Federal Assembly. Not only that. It is assumed that the text will end up submitting to a referendum. “We cannot accept an agreement that they can reject the swiss in the polls” sentence.Updated Date: 06 January 2020, 13:00