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Fragmented framework? Swiss-EU deal: Cassis said to be mulling rescue with lighter version

Swiss and EU flag

Brussels wants Bern to agree a framework agreement to consolidate the complex system of bilateral accords that now govern ties between Switzerland and the EU.


Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis wants to save the negotiations with Brussels with a massively reduced framework agreement, the SonnstagsZeitung reported on Sunday.

The newspaper, citing independent sources, said Cassis intends to unveil a light version of the European Union treaty to the Federal Council next week.

Cassis, according to the report, will propose the idea of splitting up the framework agreement in a bid to protect Switzerland from EU sanctions.

The plan foresees signing up to parts of the agreement now and setting a five-year deadline to resolve the outstanding disputed topics.

This would allow Cassis to circumvent the demand of political parties to stop negotiations if thornier questions – such as so-called accompanying measures – cannot be settled quickly.

A free movement agreement between Switzerland and the EU has been in force since 2002. It allows European workers and companies to come and work in Switzerland, and vice versa.

But since wages are on average higher in Switzerland than in most European countries, the movement has been mainly one-way - to Switzerland.

Despite measures to protect the Swiss workforce, the freedom of movement accord remains a highly charged political issue.

There is pressure to conclude the broader framework agreement this year ahead of elections in Switzerland and the EU in 2019.


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