Calmy-Rey hits out at "passive" European Union

President Micheline Calmy-Rey has accused the European Union of “making life difficult" for the Swiss in negotiations for a new bilateral treaty.

This content was published on July 10, 2011 and agencies

In an interview with the SonntagsZeitung newspaper to mark the middle of her one-year term as Swiss president, Calmy-Rey hit out at what she described as the EU’s “passivity” in current negotiations.

Conceding that discussions about a new bilateral agreement were “difficult at the moment”, Calmy-Rey said it was necessary to consolidate bilateral measures to ensure Swiss business access to European markets.

For its part, the EU has an interest in having “regulations which guarantee it tax revenues from its citizens and businesses”, Calmy-Rey said.

“But Brussels needs to understand that we are not just talking about money. For us the discussion must take into account a package of measures,” she said.

Calmy-Rey said Switzerland had proposed constructive ideas to solve such issues, but Brussels had been imposing "obstacles", despite European Commission President José Manuel Barosso having indicated willingness for a new package of bilateral measures.

“Unfortunately, we have to state that the EU is making our life unnecessarily and unjustifiably difficult,” complained Calmy-Rey. “The passivity of the EU irritates me.”

She said the EU had adopted an “unacceptable attitude” in wanting to set a deadline for the introduction of measures to recognise diplomas, which was “too short for our decisional processes, and without having consulted us.”

She also hit back at EU complaints about Switzerland’s accompanying measures tied to the agreement for the free movement of people, saying they were necessary to prevent wage dumping.

However she rejected calls by some Swiss politicians for a renegotiation of the agreement for the free movement of people, arguing that such a move would be an “own goal” and Switzerland would risk losing certain advantages.

“The EU would inevitably impose new demands,” Calmy-Rey said.

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