THE EU’s failure to bend Switzerland weakens the position of Ursula von der Leyen further, it has been claimed.
After years of talks, Switzerland announced its decision to scrap efforts aimed at agreeing an overarching treaty with the EU. Switzerland is not in the bloc but has signed up to many of its policies, such as freedom of movement. The relationship is currently governed by more than 120 bilateral deals, and a failure to replace them with one single deal could potentially harm relations.
The European Commission said last month: “We regret this decision, given the progress that has been made over the last years.”
The EU-Switzerland free trade agreement dates back to 1972.
The European Commission said that without an EU-Swiss framework agreement, modernising that relationship would not be possible.
Existing deals were “not up to speed” and the impact of Switzerland’s decision would have to be analysed, it warned.
The right-wing Swiss People’s Party (SVP) welcomed the breakdown of talks as “a victory for Swiss self-determination”, while trade unions were also pleased as they had been concerned about the impact on wage protection and public services.
In a recent report, Wolfgang Streek, emeritus director of the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Society, warned European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen that as a result of Switzerland’s decision, she could get in trouble.
He wrote: “In Brussels, the Swiss dossier resides in the portfolio of Ursula von der Leyen, President of the Commission, who has inherited it from her predecessor, the now forgotten Jean-Claude Juncker.
“Her failure to make Switzerland capitulate weakens her position further, by once more laying bare the fault lines of the one-size-fits-all ‘ever closer union’.
“Pressured by imperial-centralist hardliners in the EU Parliament – and, one should assume, by the German and French national governments – the Commission is now threatening Switzerland with retaliation.”
The Swiss are told by the European bureaucracy that without the Framework Agreement this will be difficult and sometimes impossible, which would cost them dear, Mr Street continued in his report for Briefings for Britain.
In an exclusive interview with Express.co.uk, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s trade adviser Shanker Singham claimed Switzerland would be better off with a deal similar to the one Britain struck with the EU.
Mr Singham, the CEO of economic consultancy Competere, said: “There is no one in the world that has a full zero-quota, zero-tariff deal with the EU.
“We are the only country that has that.
“To get a zero-quota, zero-tariff deal with the EU is very very unusual.”
He added: “Frankly, this is a better deal than what the Swiss have with the EU.
“If I was Switzerland, I would want a similar deal.
“And in fact, if I was Switzerland, Turkey or even one of the Mediterranean countries like Morocco, I would be going for this exact kind of deal.”
In another interview with Express.co.uk, historian and head of an Icelandic free-market think tank Hjörtur J. Guðmundsson echoed Mr Singham’s claims.