What's blocking the EU-Switzerland framework agreement?
A draft institutional framework agreement between the EU and Switzerland has existed since 2018. The aim is to simplify the legal relationship between the two partners, which is currently governed by around 120 individual agreements, but the agreement has yet to be adopted. Now, for the first time, Swiss President Guy Parmelin has publicly stated that "substantial differences" stand in the way.
No more privileges without concessions
Switzerland's behaviour in the negotiations is annoying, writes Bern correspondent Isabel Pfaff in the Süddeutsche Zeitung:
“However, it fits in with Switzerland's general course in European policy. ... In short: maximum advantages with minimum loss of sovereignty. ... That's understandable from the Swiss point of view - but the EU does not have to accept this unequal deal. ... The EU has watched this performance for long enough. It's time to let the negotiating partner feel what it's like to gradually go back to being a normal third country. Important trade agreements are about to expire. A renewal must be linked to concessions on the Swiss side. Because at the end of the day, it's quite simple: if you want to take part in the single market game, you have to play by the rules.”
Switzerland in splendid isolation
Le Temps is sceptical of optimism regarding the possibility of finding common ground:
“Both sides are pretending that the door remains open, that the negotiating partners 'remain in contact'. But in reality one wonders whether the consultations will allow the respective parties to resume the negotiations with new proposals - as the parliamentarians are demanding. ... The exclusion of diplomats specialised in European integration last autumn was a first sign of a hardening of the Swiss position. There is no indication that the course pursued for nine years, which has led to 'splendid isolation', will be abandoned.”
Agreement better than its reputation
Despite their diverging positions, Switzerland and the EU should still make an effort to save the agreement, says the Aargauer Zeitung:
“Bern and Brussels agree to disagree - the positions on the institutional framework agreement are so far apart that it will be difficult to bring the very lengthy negotiations to a satisfactory conclusion. President Parmelin was certainly right not to draw the line on Friday. A final attempt to save the agreement should be made. ... The two negotiators will have no choice but to sit down again and once again try to bring their positions closer to each other. The framework agreement is not as bad as some parties and interest groups make it out to be.”