Over two-thirds of Swiss companies support the framework agreement that has been negotiated over the past five years with the European Union (EU), according to a survey commissioned by the Swiss business lobby economiesuisse.
The poll external linkof more than 1,000 Swiss firms conducted by the gsf.bern research institute also showed that three out of four companies believe bilateral agreements with the EU offer a series of advantages.
Larger firms have a more positive view than smaller entities about the bilateral accords, which have gained in support since a similar survey last year.
Since 2014, talks have been taking place to formalise relations between Bern and Brussels, currently covered by around 120 separate bilateral accords negotiated since a 1992 referendum in the Alpine state rejected joining the European Economic Area.
The proposed overarching framework agreement covers five of the larger bilateral deals: free movement of people, mutual recognition of industrial standards, agricultural products, air transport, and land transport.
Under the negotiated draft accord, which was unveiled in December 2018external link, Swiss rules would automatically adapt to be in line with EU law. The treaty would also aim to provide a more effective platform to resolve disputes using arbitration panels to handle disagreements.
The Swiss government submitted it to a public consultation due to divergent domestic viewpoints. Brussels has given Switzerland until July 2019 to decide whether it wants to accept the deal.
Economiesuisse President Monika Rühl said on Thursday that the draft proposal would improve Switzerland’s position and that the Federal Council (executive body) must assume its responsibilities and “step up a gear”.
“Sitting idly by and postponing the decision until the end of the year will not help Switzerland,” she declared.
Recent polls of the general public have shown contrasting views about the framework deal. A Tamedia survey last Sundayexternal link found that only 20% of respondents thought the agreement should be signed quickly without changes. However, a poll published in the NZZ am Sonntag newspaper in March showed that 17% of Swiss say that they would definitely approve the deal, while 43% declared that they probably would.
Swiss President Ueli Maurer said last week at the Swiss Economic Forum that the current draft agreement lacks what is needed to win over majority support in Switzerland. Maurer indicated that Switzerland would resume discussions with Brussels to fine-tune the draft agreement.