The EU’s 27 Member States today expressed their deep dissatisfaction with the bloc’s relationship with Switzerland calling on the country to enter into a mutual arrangement similar to the Norwegian model.
Every two years, the Council assesses its relations with the four countries countries that are part of the European Free Trade Agreement (EFTA). This year Member States declared the Swiss option as completely unsatisfactory.
Swiss participation in the single market has stalled for years as EU Member States demand a new Norway type arrangement of automatically adopting nearly all EU laws without having any say on their creation.
The leader of the Liberal Democrats in Europe, Fiona Hall MEP, commented on today’s Council report:
“The ‘Swiss option’ is dead. Europhobes must get real – there is no Britzerland solution on the table for the UK.
“The EU is refusing to allow Switzerland further integration into the EU single market in lucrative sectors like energy unless it gives up the complex system of bilateral agreements which govern EU-Swiss relations.
“In any case – Switzerland’s model is not an example that the UK should aspire to. Switzerland has access to only 60-70% of the EU’s internal market, and misses out completely on agricultural products and most service industries. This includes financial services where the UK has a £17.6 billion trade surplus with the EU. In exchange, the Swiss have to adopt many EU laws and rules without having any say.
“Britzerland is cloud cuckoo land, no more real than a chocolate Santa.“
Notes to editors:
The Council’s full biennal report on relations with EFTA countries can be found here:
Short summery of the main points made in the report (highlights in bold have been added to emphasise the key issues and are not part of the original text):
“While the Council welcomes the continuation of intensive and close cooperation with Switzerlandin many areas, it is of the view that the conclusion of any negotiation regarding the participation of Switzerland in the Internal market is, in particular, dependent on solving the institutional issues outlined in the Council conclusions of 2008 and 2010.”
“Recalling its conclusions of 2010, the Council reaffirms that the approach taken by Switzerlandto participate in EU policies and programmes through sectoral agreements in more and more areas in the absence of any horizontal institutional framework, has reached its limits and needs to be reconsidered. Any further development of the complex system of agreements would put at stake the homogeneity of the Internal Market and increase legal insecurity as well as make it more difficult to manage such an extensive and heterogeneous system of agreements. In the light of the high level of integration ofSwitzerland with the EU, any further extension of this system would in addition bear the risk of undermining the EU’s relations with the EEA EFTA partners.”
“However, the Council considers that further steps are necessary in order to ensure the homogeneous interpretation and application of the Internal Market rules. In particular, the Council deems it necessary to establish a suitable framework applicable to all existing and future agreements. This framework should, inter alia, provide for a legally binding mechanism as regards the adaptation of the agreements to the evolving EU acquis. Furthermore, it should include international mechanisms for surveillance and judicial control. In this context, the Council notes that by participating in parts of the EU internal market and policies, Switzerland is not only engaging in a bilateral relation but becomes a participant in a multilateral project. All in all, this institutional framework should present a level of legal certainty and independence equivalent to the one of the mechanisms created under the EEA Agreement.”
Relevant financial service statistics can be found here: