The relationship between Switzerland and the EU – accession? No thanks! – Young people give the EU the cold shoulder – News



22 October 1991 Negotiators from the EC (now EU) and EFTA conclude their negotiations on the European Economic Area (EEA) in Luxembourg. Federal councilors Felber and Delamuraz will also be there. At At 04.00 the two call a press conference in the EC Commission building and announce that the Federal Council regards the EEA as just a stage on the way to full inclusion in the EC.

  • In retrospect, the Federal Council thus gave the EEA opponents an important argument for later victory in the vote.

February 7, 1992 The EC countries sign the Maastricht Treaty. It is the biggest integration step since the founding of the EC and the basis for the creation of the Economic and Monetary Union.

  • Only three years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, this is yet another sign that the political order in Europe is rapidly changing.

18 May 1992 The Federal Council decides to submit an official request to the EC to start accession negotiations.

  • The decision stems from the fear of a majority in the Bundesrat that Switzerland will miss out on the dynamism of Europe and suffer economic damage as a result.

December 6, 1992 Swiss voters rejected the EEA by 50.3%.

  • A shock for the political elite in Switzerland, who collectively fought for a yes. And a victory for Christoph Blocher and the beginning of the rise of his decidedly right-wing conservative SVP.

February 20, 1994 Swiss voters approve the Alpine Protection Initiative with 51.9%. This requires transalpine freight transport to be moved from road to rail.

  • From the EU’s point of view, this is another violation of Switzerland and a major stumbling block for future bilateral negotiations.

December 1994 Start of negotiations between Switzerland and the EU on bilateral agreements. The EU had shown itself willing to negotiate in seven areas on the condition that the treaties can only enter into force once agreement has been reached on all seven areas. On June 21, 1999, that is the case.

  • This condition of the EU takes place as so-called «Guillotine clause» included in the seven agreements. It states that if one agreement is terminated, all others are also suspended. For example, the EU would prevent Switzerland from only agreeing to a treaty where it is in its interest (“cherry picking”).

21 May 2000 The voters said yes to the bilateral agreements with 67.2 per cent.

  • Almost eight years after the EEA dissolution, Switzerland is still able to join the European single market. The danger of isolation has been averted for the time being. At the same time, EU accession is politically far away.

March 3, 2002 54.6% of voters agreed to join the UN.

  • Switzerland is taking a big step back on the international stage.

May 1, 2004 Ten countries join the EU, including eight from Eastern Europe. The EU will thus increase from 15 to 25 members. It is the Union’s largest enlargement step to date.

  • The division of Europe from the Cold War will thus be overcome.

October 26, 2004 Switzerland and the EU sign another set of bilateral agreements. Among other things, it regulates cooperation within border control and in the asylum system (Schengen and Dublin rules). A referendum is held against this part of Bilaterals II.

  • It is the result of a classic give and take. Both sides have issues where more cooperation is important to them, and that creates a unified package.

June 5, 2005 The voters said yes to Schengen/Dublin with 54.6 per cent.

September 25, 2005 56% of voters agreed to extend the free movement of people to ten new EU countries.

November 26, 2006 The voters said yes to the Eastern Aid Act with 53 per cent. It is the basis for the payment of the so-called “cohesion billion” to the Eastern European EU states.

February 8, 2009 With 59.6%, voters approved the extension of free movement of people to new EU members Bulgaria and Romania.

  • This series of voting successes confirms the Federal Council in its course to consolidate relations with the EU.

18 December 2013 The Federal Council decides on a mandate for negotiations with the EU on a framework agreement. It is intended to clarify open institutional issues, in particular how conflicts in the interpretation of the bilateral agreements can be resolved.

  • In the negotiation mandate, the Federal Council sets “red lines”. With them, he wants to protect the core concerns of important political actors, such as the trade unions or the bourgeois parties and thus secure political support.

February 9, 2014 Voters support the Mass Immigration Initiative (MEI) with 50.3% yes votes. She calls for a restriction on immigration, which would be contrary to the agreement on free movement of people with the EU.

  • The result of the vote calls into question the entire first set of bilateral agreements. Parliament bailed itself out of the impasse by implementing the “creative” initiative. In relations with the EU, the referendum led to months of radio silence.

November 24, 2015 Resumption of negotiations on the framework agreement

  • End of the official radio silence between Bern and Brussels since the MEI vote

June 15, 2016 As the second chamber, the Council of State votes for Switzerland to withdraw its application for membership from Brussels.

  • The possibility of full accession to the EU has always been a theoretical possibility. Now she is also formally off the table. For “Brussels”, the step is another “unfriendly act”.

June 23, 2016 51.9% of voters in Great Britain voted to leave the EU (Brexit).

  • In light of this new existential challenge, many believe that the EU is less willing to respond to Switzerland’s wishes.

September 20, 2017 FDP National Councilor Ignazio Cassis is elected to the Federal Council.

  • Leading up to his election, Cassis had announced in an interview that he would be in favor of a fresh start in relation to the EU and would press the “reset” button.

June 12, 2018 In an interview with Radio SRF, Cassis put the accompanying measures up for discussion. Among other things, they ensure that suppliers from the EU area are not allowed to practice wage dumping in Switzerland.

  • It is a mockery of the unions. They adopt a blockade stance in European politics.

November 23, 2018 Cassis speaks in Zurich with EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn about the status of the negotiations on the framework agreement.

  • The EU considers the negotiations to be over, but Switzerland does not.

December 7, 2018 The Federal Council initiates a public consultation on the framework agreement.

  • That gives him time to gather a political majority for the deal.

7 June 2019 After the consultation, the Federal Council declared to the EU that there was a need for clarification on three points in the framework agreement.

  • From Brussels’ point of view, however, the maximum number of concessions to Switzerland has already been reached.

18 June 2019 The EU decides not to extend the so-called stock exchange equivalence – an administrative measure that damages the Swiss stock exchange.

  • A purely technical issue is politically charged by the EU. From the point of view of the Confederation Council, this amounts to an attempt at blackmail.

September 27, 2020 Voters reject the restriction initiative with 61.7 per cent.

  • With it, the SVP wanted to enforce the contracting implementation of its mass immigration initiative from 2014.

14 October 2020 The Federal Council appoints Livia Leu as its new chief negotiator towards the EU.

  • Leu is the fifth person to hold this position in four years.

26 May 2021 Switzerland breaks off negotiations on a framework agreement.

  • In the relationship between Switzerland and the EU, the preliminary low point has been reached. Opinions on how to proceed are miles apart.

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