Former Swiss State Secretary Blankart dies aged 84

Franz Blankart, pictured in Bern in 1996, was a key Swiss trade negotiator. Keystone / Str

Franz Blankart, who brokered numerous deals between Switzerland and the European Economic Community (EEC), passed away on Sunday afternoon.

This content was published on January 18, 2021 - 12:09

The diplomat held senior posts during his more than 30-year career in the foreign and economics ministries and was involved in numerous negotiations.

Born in Basel in 1936, he began his career as a Swiss embassy attaché in The Hague in 1965 and retired as head of the foreign trade office in 1998.

In the 1970s, Blankart took part in the negotiations for Switzerland to join the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) before taking over as head of the Integration Office (1973-80). Later he was ambassador to the Geneva-based EFTA and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT).

In 1984 he was appointed government delegate for trade agreements. He led two particularly important negotiations: the Uruguay Round negotiations at the GATT (1987-93) as well as the negotiations for Switzerland’s accession to the European Economic Area treaty (1990-92), which Swiss voters rejected at the ballot box.

Blankart had a varied academic background, having studied philosophy, German literature, art history, economics and law.

He also taught in Geneva at the University Institutes of European and International Studies (1974-2002) and was president of the Fondation en faveur de l’Art chorégraphique and the Prix de Lausanne ballet competition.

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