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Price of deadlock Minister says EU-Swiss quagmire means higher energy costs

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"The more interconnected the European electricity market is, the higher the price we will have to pay without having a say," warns Swiss energy minister Doris Leuthard.

(Keystone)

Switzerland’s energy minister warns that failure to reach a framework agreement with the European Union (EU) could raise electricity costs in the Alpine nation.

"If we could participate on an equal footing in the European Union market, the electricity bill of Swiss consumers would be around CHF120 million ($121 million) lower," said Doris Leuthard, who holds the environment, transport, energy, and communications dossier.

She said the deadlock in negotiations with the EU is already costing Switzerland significant money and jeopardizes the conclusion of other agreements.

The framework agreement being discussed between Brussels and Bern covers five bilateral deals: free movement of persons, mutual recognition on conformity assessment, agricultural products, air transport and land transport.

Measures related to the free movement of persons are the main stumbling block.

The Swiss government is also negotiating parallel market access agreements in several areas, with the electricity market designated as a priority.

Without an agreement on electricity, the minister said, Swiss electricity distributors risk exclusion from negotiating arenas within the EU, something that would raise their costs in general.

“Without fair access, they will suffer losses, as their green energy (guarantee of origin) will no longer be recognised as such in the EU in the future,” she noted.

According to a study published by her ministry in 2017, Switzerland faces no significant risk of electric shortages before 2035. However, Switzerland's integration into the European electricity market is a key condition for ensuring security of supply.

 


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