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European Policy Swiss to withdraw dormant EU bid

Switzerland chose to have a bilateral relationship with the EU instead of being a full member

(Keystone)

Parliament has voted to withdraw Switzerland’s dormant application to join the European Union.

The Senate voted on Wednesday to approve a motion from the House of Representatives that essentially calls the old application meaningless. It now falls to the cabinet to communicate this to the EU.

Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter said the cabinet would convey the message that Switzerland’s application for EU membership is invalid and should be withdrawn. At the same time, they'll have to reiterate Switzerland’s determination to modernise its bilateral relationship.

Burkhalter had previously stated that application was invalid.

Dormant, but not forgotten

In 1992, Swiss voters narrowly rejected joining the single-market European Economic Area, unlike Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway which have full access to the single market.

Around that time, the Swiss cabinet backed the application for EU membership. However, Swiss voters rejected that bid months later and the application remained dormant.

Proponents of Wednesday’s vote said they wanted to bring clarity to the situation. Others called the vote pointless, but harmless.

The Swiss system of direct democracy would require a national referendum to join the EU. A majority of voters and a majority of the nation’s 26 cantons would have to approve it.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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