EU opposed to Swiss involvement in education

The EU accused Switzerland of having an "oscillatory" position on membership of the 15-nation body

The European Commission has come out against Swiss participation in the Union's education and training programmes, despite having signed a bilateral agreement on closer cooperation.

This content was published on May 4, 2001 - 16:50

The Commission said its decision was motivated by Switzerland's ambiguous attitude towards the EU. Although the Swiss government has said it is committed to eventual membership, voters last March rejected a proposal to start immediate talks on accession.

The commission said it remained committed to increased cooperation with Switzerland. But it stressed that it was not prepared to treat the country in the same way as the two other western candidates for accession - Iceland and Norway - because of its "oscillatory" position.

It added that the EU's education programmes were about more than just teaching and training, and that participating countries needed to subscribe to a European philosophy. It said it doubted Switzerland was ready to do so.

The programmes concerned include education ("Socrates"), vocational training ("Leonardo da Vinci") and those involving youth and media.

The Commission's position comes in the wake of a decision by the Upper House of the Belgian parliament to revoke an agreement with Switzerland on the free movement of people. A final vote on the issue is due in the coming weeks.

The accord is one of seven agreed between Switzerland and the EU, and approved by Swiss voters last year. They are currently awaiting ratification by the parliaments of EU member states.

The Belgian senators' decision is thought to have been motivated by Brussels' anger over the possibility that Swissair Group will pull out of the loss-making Belgian airline, Sabena, in which it owns a 49.5 per cent stake.

swissinfo with agencies

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