Swiss stock exchange could lose EU access in January

EU Commission Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis. Keystone

An EU Commission document has revealed that, for now, not enough progress on the Swiss-EU framework agreement has been made to renew the ‘financial equivalency’ status of the Swiss stock exchange in Europe.

Keystone-SDA/dos

According to a note sent on Tuesday by Commission Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis, it seems that patchy progress in ongoing talks between Bern and Brussels could mean that the Swiss stock exchange loses its privileged access to European markets as of January 2019.

‘Financial equivalency’, which allows the Swiss stock exchange (operated by the SIX group) to engage in European cross-border financial trading on equal terms, is a key bargaining chip in wider discussions that have soured and slowed in recent times.

+ Putting the institutional framework agreement in context

Towards the end of last year, the EU first announced that Switzerland’s equivalency would be renewed, but not indefinitely, as it is for other partners such as Hong Kong and the United States; rather, it was capped at 12 months.

The move, along with repeated warnings from Brussels that the equivalency could be scrapped altogether if talks in other areas didn’t move ahead, angered the political class in Switzerland and prompted Finance Minister Ueli Maurer to threaten tit-for-tat action in June.

Contacted by Keystone-SDA about the latest warning from Brussels, a Federal finance ministry spokesman said he was aware of the development, but that his department was awaiting a decision by the Federal Council (executive body) on the position of the Swiss stock exchange.

Indeed, this week is crucial for the Swiss negotiating line on Europe, as a sometimes-divided Federal Council meets to discuss next steps. A government reaction that would shed further light on the financial equivalency issue could come this Friday.

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