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Foreign policy Swiss hope for a new EU deal in 2019

two men shaking hands

Johannes Hahn, EU commissioner for neighbourhood policy and enlargement (left), and Swiss Foreign Affairs Minister Ignazio Cassis during discussions at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, earlier this year


With negotiations at a standstill, Switzerland is aiming for next year for a new treaty outlining relations with the European Union.

In a statement issued on Tuesdayexternal link, the Swiss government highlighted European policy as one of its priorities for next year.

“The Federal Council is following the overriding goal of unhindered market access as far as possible, and intensive cooperation in select areas, while maintaining the greatest possible sovereignty,” noted the executive branch of the Swiss government. The Federal Council added that it was “attentively” following Britain’s departure from the EU as well as the development of its future relationship.

Switzerland is not a member of the 28-nation bloc, but its location in the middle of Europe means it has dozens of bilateral deals governing trade, migration and other issues. However, for the past four years, Switzerland and the EU have been struggling to come up with a new framework accord.

+ Why the EU-Swiss framework accord missed its mid-October deadline

The EU, occupied with its divorce proceedings with Britain, has had fewer resources to finesse its relationship with Switzerland; nevertheless, the alpine nation remains on its radar.

“I hope that very soon we’ll have a decision, of course a positive one, but it’s too premature to make any predictions about the outcome,” European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Commissioner Johannes Hahnexternal link told last week. “There are definitely red lines on both sides. Our aim – meaning Foreign Affairs Minister Cassisexternal link and myself – is hopefully to bring together the two lines to one.”

On Monday, Economics Minister Johann Schneider-Ammann insisted that Switzerland would not be pressured to wrap up negotiations this year.

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