Framework Agreement, EU membership or going it alone?
Speaker: State Secretary Roberto Balzaretti
The bilateral relations between Switzerland and the European Union are approaching a crossroad. The Federal Council submitted the draft text for an institutional framework agreement (INSTA) between Switzerland and the EU to a broad consultation. The EU declared such an agreement as precondition to develop the bilateral economic relations further. In such a situation, the conclusion of an institutional or framework agreement might become the only alternative to a full adhesion to the EU.
ICC Switzerland regularly offers opportunities to discuss topics of current business interest. Our last Chairman's Lunch in Zurich focused on these Swiss-EU relations. We had the opportunity to learn more about the context when State Secretary Roberto Balzaretti shared his thoughts. As it is known from various public statements, the largest number of participants in the consultation process were in general in favor of an institutional framework agreement but raised various concerns and requested “clarifications” or even “re-negotiations”. In the discussions some possible ways forward have been touched. It became apparent that Switzerland obtained substantial improvements during the negotiations. It would be important to take more a strategic view instead of focusing on single eventually problematic facts. The political process will take quite some time in any case. This gives room to search for clarifications in parallel. Therefore, a quick positive reaction by Switzerland to the European Union would be helpful to deblock the relations.