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Paper: Swiss consider unilateral adjustment of laws to appease EU

On April 23 Swiss President Guy Parmelin and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen held much-anticipated talks in Brussels in the hope of breaking the stalemate over the framework deal. But talks remain blocked with Parmelin saying afterwards that “substantial differences” remain between the two sides. Keystone / Francois Walschaerts / Pool

Switzerland is examining how it could unilaterally align its regulations with those of the European Union in order to stabilise the existing set of bilateral accords with the 27-member bloc, according to the NZZ am Sonntag newspaper.

This content was published on May 2, 2021 - 12:57
NZZ am Sonntag/sb

Talks on future ties between Switzerland and the EU are again at a dead end. The Swiss government says it will not agree to an overarching framework deal with the EU if Brussels is not willing to compromise on open issues. But a plan B is unclear. The government is due to decide on the next steps in the coming few days, following consultations.

On Sunday, the NZZ am Sonntag newspaper reported on “Stabilex”, a project led by the Swiss justice ministry to see how Switzerland could unilaterally align its regulations with those of the EU. The ministry is due to present an analysis of legal differences between Switzerland and the EU by May 19.

The aim of “Stabilex”, says the paper, is to stabilise the bilateral path if the framework agreement fails.

As a non-member of the EU, Switzerland’s relations with the 27-member bloc are governed by a patchwork of 120 bilateral accords, which give it many benefits of membership. The EU would like to formalise future ties and institutional issues in a framework deal. Swiss and EU officials negotiated a draft framework deal between 2014 and 2018. Brussels would like Bern to sign the treaty, but it has languished as the Swiss government has dragged its feet.

On April 23, Swiss President Guy Parmelin and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen held much-anticipated talks in Brussels in the hope of breaking the stalemate. But talks remain blocked with Parmelin saying afterwards that “substantial differences” remain between the two sides.

Switzerland has demanded that state aid, labour rules and citizens' rights are struck from a draft agreement that was drawn up in 2018. But the EU has refused.

Officially, talks are still continuing between the two sides. On Friday, Swiss negotiator Livia Leu and EU diplomat Stéphanie Riso reportedly spoke on the phone; another call is planned next week.

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