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Framework agreement Swiss back foreign minister’s EU strategy

Swiss and EU flags flying on a black car
(Keystone)

A majority of Swiss people support foreign minister Ignazio Cassis’s plans for a new framework agreement on bilateral relations with the European Union (EU), a survey has found.

The survey, published by the NZZ am Sonntag newspaper, found that 54% of people also support the idea of a joint arbitration court to settle disputes between the EU and Switzerland.

Even supporters of the conservative right Swiss People’s Party, which opposes a framework agreement with the EU, backed the idea, reports the NZZ. 

Cassis announced the government’s support for such a court in early March. It was first suggested in January by officials in Brussels, who reportedly see it as a means of circumventing Swiss reluctance to allow the European Court of Justice (ECJ) to make rulings on relations. 

+ Read more about negotiations between Switzerland and the EUexternal link

Since 2014, the two sides have been negotiating an institutional framework agreement. Its purpose is to reorganize the selected bilateral agreements that currently govern their relations, in particular those concerning single market access. 

According to the survey, 82% of participants want to continue relations with the EU based on the existing bilateral accords, and 75% back the government’s new strategy including a binding procedure for the adoption of European law and settlement of disputes.

The survey was conducted by gfs.bernexternal link among 2,500 respondents in March and April. Its results give Cassis “an impressive head start” in the talks, poll coordinator Urs Bieri told NZZ am Sonntag.  

Under Switzerland’s system of direct democracy, Swiss voters will get the final say on any new treaty with the EU. 

SDA-ATS/RTS/jc

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