Switzerland rejects Framework Agreement with EU

After seven years of negotiations, Switzerland has pulled out of talks on the Institutional Framework Agreement with the EU. There was no agreement on crucial points, said Swiss President Guy Parmelin. The main sticking points were wage and worker protection and free movement of persons. While some commentators welcome the withdrawal, others warn of undesirable consequences.

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Corriere del Ticino (CH) /

No deal better than a bad one

Corriere del Ticino applauds the decision, saying it was both inevitable and correct:

“The Framework Agreement has been clinically dead for a long time. The conditions for its success were never met. The only question was who should take the decision: the Federal Council, the Parliament or the people. The project has now been overturned in the first phase, and that is a good thing. Without drama. No agreement is better than a bad one. We continue on the path of bilateral agreements, open to the EU market. We will probably have to pay for it; neither reprisals nor missed opportunities can be ruled out. But we are starting from an economically and socially solid basis. And above all, with the full freedom to decide what we do in our own country.”

Luzerner Zeitung (CH) /

At the mercy of Brussels' every whim

By breaking off the agreement Switzerland is putting its fate in the hands of its biggest trading partner, the daily Luzerner Zeitung counters:

“The fact is that Switzerland has never been more dependant on the EU than it is now. ... Brussels offered its small partner a decent mechanism for settling future political differences. Switzerland would always have had the option of not going along with developments. ... Now, however, the supposedly so independent and sovereign Switzerland is completely at the mercy of the EU's whims.”

L'Opinion (FR) /

Compromise urgently needed

The failure is also a sign of the times, writes Denis MacShane, former British Minister of State for Europe and an expert on Switzerland, in L'Opinion:

“The World Economic Forum's decades of ultraliberal economic ideology - its 'get rich quick' doctrine - are coming to an end. President Biden, European leaders and even Boris Johnson are entering a new, more social and greener era in economic and labour market policy. For the purists of European economic liberalism, Switzerland is breaking the rules and must be brought to heel. The last time, when an Austrian commissioner tried to do this, a man by the name of William Tell replied. The EU and Switzerland must find a compromise before it is too late.”

Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

You can't have it both ways

The Swiss must now be prepared to bear the consequences of the decision, writes the Bern correspondent of the Süddeutsche Zeitung, Isabel Pfaff:

“Those who want to participate in the EU project and its single market must give up a piece of autonomy and accept the rules of the game. If that's not possible for Switzerland, there are other options for cooperation. But maximum advantages with minimum loss of sovereignty: that is not a fair deal.”

The Daily Telegraph (GB) /

EU becoming a tyrant

The collapsed deal shows that Britain was right to take the Brexit route, says The Daily Telegraph:

“Trade arrangements which the EU found perfectly acceptable 20, 30, 40 years ago it no longer finds acceptable. The EU no longer simply wants free trade: it wants to muscle its way into many more aspects of its neighbours' economic and social lives. Either you are a member of the EU, it is asserted, or we will try all we can to force you to become a de facto member. ... Over the coming years a nimbler, less-demanding Britain has the opportunity to open up trade with the rest of the world much more successfully than has the EU. Indeed, with its growing protectionism and arrogance, the EU risks going backwards.”