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Automatic acceptance of EU laws rejected

The government has ruled out an automatic acceptance of any future changes in European Union (EU) law.

"All forms of automatism are excluded at the risk of losing the flexibility offered by the bilateral path," said Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey at a media conference on Thursday.

She was keen for negotiations currently underway – on electricity, health and agriculture – to continue, but insisted on Switzerland having a voice in future discussions on EU law.

Switzerland is not a member of the EU, although joining the EU remains the cabinet's stated option. A Swiss application for membership has been lodged in Brussels but remains dormant.

To ensure Switzerland does not suffer discrimination as a non-member, Swiss legislation in many fields, including trade, has been brought into line with that of the EU.

The pragmatic response of the Swiss government since 1992 – when Swiss voters narrowly turned down membership of the European Economic Area – has been to engage in talks with the EU on a series of bilateral accords.

A first set, mainly on trade, labour and transport issues, came into force in 2002 and a second series in 2004.

General Swiss scepticism about the EU was underlined by a national vote in 2001, which turned down a proposal on opening membership negotiations.

swissinfo.ch and agencies


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