Swiss Finance Minister Ueli Maurer has said he is not satisfied with the result of negotiations which resulted in Switzerland promising to renew a financial package with the European Union worth CHF1.3 billion ($1.32 billion).
In an interview with Swiss public radioexternal link, SRF, on Tuesday, Maurer was especially critical of the lack of progress concerning financial markets.
The promise of the payment to the 28-nation bloc was made during a visit by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to the Swiss capital Bern on November 23.
Juncker said the commission would turn its attention on December 8 to the issue of “equivalence” for Swiss market regulation – a condition for Swiss banks to be able to do business within the EU.
That was not enough for Maurer, a member of the conservative right Swiss People’s Party. “That’s what we already had,” he said on Tuesday. “Swiss banks needed market access, but this has not been guaranteed. We expected more from the EU Commission.”
Now the finance ministry would have to seek to get better market access than at present with Switzerland’s main neighbouring countries “step by step”, he said.
The so-called cohesion billion payment – approved by Swiss voters in December 2006 – is to be split into two separate slices. Some CHF1.1 billion is aimed at vocational training programmes and efforts to combat youth unemployment in EU member states in central and eastern Europe over the next ten years. The remaining CHF200 million is destined for migration aid throughout the whole of the EU.
The People’s Party has accused the government of giving away taxpayers’ money to the EU and betraying the interests of the country.
swissinfo.ch and agencies/ts