Swiss government issues EU negotiating mandate

08 November 2023 15:02


Bern - The Swiss government has decided to draw up a mandate for negotiations with the EU. Before the end of the year, it will decide whether or not to adopt the document. Discussions with social partners, cantons and other stakeholders on the implementation of a possible agreement will continue.

The Swiss government, known as the Federal Council, is of the opinion that the exploratory talks with the EU have now concluded. According to a statement dated 8 November, it has instructed the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs to draw up a negotiating mandate together with other departments. The Federal Council intends to submit the mandate to the Foreign Affairs Committees and the Conference of Cantonal Governments before the end of the year.

Along with exploring solutions with the EU, the Federal Council also discussed the implementation of any agreements with the cantons, social partners and the business community. It reports that the majority of questions were "satisfactorily clarified". However, it has instructed the Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research to take the lead in continuing technical discussions with social partners and cantons on wage protection. The Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications will lead discussions with the sectors, cantons and social partners on the implementation of an electricity agreement and on overland transport issues.

Economiesuisse welcomes the Federal Council's schedule. “The business community continues to support the Federal Council in its efforts to secure and further develop the successful model of the bilateral approach with the 'Bilaterals III'," it writes in a statement.

The Swiss Trade Union Federation and Travail.Suisse had previously expressed their concerns on 6 November. The planned agreement has “now become a liberalization program”, they say in their own statement. They warn of diminished wage protection and public services and fear a full liberalization of the electricity market and access to the rail network for foreign providers.

The Conference of Cantonal Governments (KdK) praises the involvement of the cantons in the European dossier. The negotiations could “pave the way for new cooperation in certain key areas that will bring economic and political benefits to Switzerland”, commented Jacques Gerber, Minister of Jura and Chairman of the KdK European Commission, as per a statement. ce/stk

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