EU and Switzerland: relationship status "complicated"
After seven years, talks between Switzerland and the EU aimed at a new institutional framework agreement are in danger of collapsing. Swiss President Guy Parmelin is to meet EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen tomorrow, but in recent weeks Bern has neither given concrete answers to Brussels' questions nor presented proposals for a partnership agreement. Commentators conclude that the only goal now is damage control.
Stalling tactics have failed
Switzerland must finally state clearly what it wants, says the Tages-Anzeiger:
“This agreement can no longer be saved. This agreement - even with cosmetic corrections - will never survive a referendum. The rifts in the key camps are too great. ... Consequently, President Guy Parmelin has only one option for his visit to Brussels: he must declare the negotiations on the present framework agreement a failure. Only this approach would be fair to the EU, which quite rightly feels that it is being led on. It's not surprising that it's now openly criticising Switzerland's negotiating style, the only recognisable tactic of which is to keep deferring decisions.”
Popular resistance not a good argument
Le Temps finds it lame to point to the change in public opinion as an excuse:
“Every EU member state has to face up to public opinion and its parliament: Switzerland can't avoid this and it can't use its direct democracy as an excuse. The EU has already lost several referendums! In Ireland, in Denmark, in France, in the Netherlands, not to mention in the UK. And each time it has recovered. Pretending to want to save the EU from the ignominy of a referendum in Switzerland won't work here. Because the argument is being made by a government that hasn't done much to inform the electorate about the challenges of its European policy, and has left the field to its opponents.”