EU chaos as bloc told Swiss relationship becoming more like Brexit after talks collapse

Switzerland: Reporter discusses collapse of EU trade talks

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Daniel Woker said the land-locked country’s decision to walk out of the talks was “ill-considered” and said it has caused Brussels to treat Switzerland as a “third country”. Bern broke off discussions with EU negotiators in March, following seven years of meetings.

The move came as a shock to many because the country had been offered better terms than the UK in key areas.

But country’s foreign minister, Ignazio Cassis, pulled the plug on the efforts aimed at forging stronger ties with the bloc, saying the government’s conditions were “not met”.

Writing for Journal21.ch, Mr Woker said the relationship between the Swiss and EU bosses is set to worsen.

The former Swiss Ambassador to Austria, Singapore and Kuwait explained: “The ill-considered decision by the Swiss government to break off ongoing negotiations with the EU will mean that Switzerland will be excluded from the European internal market in the medium term, unless vigorous countermeasures are taken soon.

“Like Great Britain, Switzerland is now becoming a third country from the perspective of the EU.

“‘Swexit’ is becoming more and more like Brexit.”

He said Switzerland will now become a “third country” which means any bilateral agreements it has with the EU will have to be fully renegotiated after they expire.

This will bring an end to “automatic roll over” which significantly cuts the workload of negotiators.

He also claimed the Europeans have displayed a “lack of understanding about Swiss rejection” of closer alignment with the bloc.

But he said the Swiss were keen to stand alone and pointed to a recent “snub against Europe”.

He cited the country’s purchase of an American fighter jet after it rejected an option made in the EU.

And he said the country is looking further afield to China to increase its trading potential.

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Mr Woker added: “The list of Swiss go-it-alone efforts, which Europe can only understand as Swiss cunning, can be continued indefinitely.

“It ranges from the hasty conclusion of a bilateral free trade agreement with China and a meaningless declaration of intent about participation in the Chinese BRI (Belt and Road

Initiative, the new Silk Road) to a special agreement with the other European outsider, Great Britain, on stock exchange equivalence.”

And he said Brexit Britain shared a parallel with Switzerland when it came to borders.

Pointing to the issues surrounding the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic, he said a similar scenario could play out in Basel.

The city in northwest Switzerland is situated on the borders of France and Germany.

He said: “Even if the Europe-wide freedoms for all Swiss citizens cease to exist, Basel will hardly declare its exit from the Confederation.

“But the fact the four important border regions – Basel in the triangle, Geneva in the “Arc Lémanique”, Ticino in Lombardy, and the Lake Constance region in the quadrangle – would be hit hard by the withering away of the four European freedoms is obvious.”

Switzerland is the EU’s fourth-largest trading partner.

Swiss and EU citizens have a mutual right to free movement.

The nation currently has over 100 bilateral treaties that govern its access to the single market.

The Swiss decided to scrap the talks earlier this year in rejection of the jurisdiction of the European court of justice, and of a free movement directive that would give permanent residency to EU citizens.

This would mean they would mean Europeans would have access to social security granted to non-employed residents such as job-seekers’ allowance and student benefits.

Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg.

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