Relations between Switzerland and the EU. Even this summer’s WEF can not end the ice age.

Everything was fine then: Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, in conversation with Federal Councilor Karin Keller-Sutter and Federal Councilor Ignazio Cassis at WEF 2020.

Keystone / Pool / Alessandro della Valle

The WEF was to make progress in the EU-Switzerland negotiations. But things went differently.

A year has passed since the Federal Council founded the framework agreement – since then there has been an ice age between Switzerland and the EU.

Actually, a meeting at this year’s WEF should set the negotiations in motion. EU Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic took the opportunity to set a deadline for the Federal Council: At the time of the Davos meeting, he called for a clear political signal, a roadmap showing how negotiations should continue.

But then the forum was postponed to May due to the pandemic. While the snow in Davos has long since given way to summer temperatures, the cold continues between the EU and Switzerland: There is no official meeting at all because EU Commissioner Maros Sefcovic has not traveled to Davos.

Sefcovic wants to travel to Switzerland in the summer

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is there. She briefly met Federal President Ignazio Cassis at a dinner last night, she said when asked by the Keystone-SDA news agency. However, she would not say whether they talked together or not.

Still: German Economy Minister Robert Habeck, with whom Federal Councilors Simonetta Sommaruga and Guy Parmelin discussed gas supplies on Sunday, said he was ready to give Mr Sefcovic some suggestions during his next visit to Brussels. [zu] propose how to resume talks between Switzerland and the EU “.

A meeting between Sefcovic and Cassis becomes more concrete: According to the European Commission, he is ready to travel to Switzerland this summer. However, a date for Sefcovic’s visit to Switzerland has not yet been set.

The EU prefers written answers

So far, it has been primarily the task of Secretary of State Livia Leu to sell the Federal Council’s new plan to the EU. This stipulates that institutional issues should be regulated at sectoral level, not uniformly in a framework agreement.

Leu has twice had exploratory talks with Juraj Nociar, the chief of staff of Maros Sefcovic, vice-president of the European Commission, since the talks broke down.

The European Commission was apparently not specific enough in these negotiations: in a letter from mid-May, it was open to the Federal Council’s solution, according to “Tages-Anzeiger”. But she demands written answers to ten questions that revolve around the major bottlenecks such as the role of the European Court of Justice and the settlement of disputes.

The positions are still far apart, the Secretary of State confirmed in “Echo der Zeit” after receiving the letter, “I do not find that at all surprising”. It just shows that the exploratory talks need to continue.

Several industries are losing privileged access

At the political level, the fronts remain hardened. The industries that are confronted with the consequences of collapse of negotiations, for example with expiring agreements, need to prove more flexible. Following the medical device industry, the in vitro diagnostics industry will also lose its privileged access to the EU single market at the end of May – which is why Switzerland will have to introduce new rules because certain trade facilitation will no longer apply.

However, the industry was able to achieve a small success: Unlike medical devices, not all in vitro diagnostics imported from the EU need to be re-labeled, only those used by non-professionals. These include, for example, pregnancy tests sold at pharmacies.

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