Poll finds most Swiss back framework deal with EU

The EU wants Switzerland to sign a framework agreement, but Swiss domestic politics threaten to derail the project. Keystone / Martin Ruetschi

While most Swiss ministers are convinced that an overarching agreement with the European Union would not stand a chance if put to a vote, a new poll suggests a strong majority would support it.

This content was published on May 9, 2021 - 12:13

The survey conducted by the research institute gfs.bern found that 64% of 2,000 people questioned were in favour of a comprehensive deal with the EU. About a third were opposed (32%).

"This shows the considerable potential of the institutional agreement at the ballot box, i.e. two thirds of voters," says René Buholzer, director of the umbrella organisation Interpharma, which commissioned the survey.

The finding runs contrary to recent, defeatist statements by government ministers who believe such a deal would not survive a popular vote, notes French-language newspaper Le Temps in its Sunday edition.

"We must have the intellectual honesty to say that in its current form, the draft agreement would not find a popular majority," Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis told German-language newspaper Aargauer Zeitung on April 30. In remarks to French-language daily Tribune de Genève, he said a popular rejection would be "harder than a governmental no".

Swiss-EU economic ties are currently government by more than 100 bilateral agreements. Brussels wants to restructure relations in exchange for continued access to the EU single market.

Critics of the EU framework agreement typically stress that it would lead to "an unacceptable loss of sovereignty". The survey, however, showed that weakening wage protection was the dominant concern for opponents.

The poll found that supporters want to prevent the export industry from being deprived of access to the European single market, the bilateral route from becoming less relevant and investors losing the capacity to plan in a stable environment.

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