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Framework (dis-)agreement Minister says state-guaranteed cantonal banks complicate EU talks

Zurich cantonal bank

The cantonal banks are 24 Swiss government-owned commercial banks.


Swiss finance minister Ueli Maurer says state-guaranteed cantonal banks are an obstacle in ongoing negotiations with the European Union.

“This point still needs to be clarified before a framework agreement can be accepted,” the minister is quoted as saying in an interview published on Saturday.

The European Union does not permit the kind of unrestricted state guarantee from which Swiss cantonal banks benefit. According to Maueur, special authorisation would have to be applied for in each individual case.

EU member states must, in principle, notify the European Commission of any state subsidies so that it can determine their eligibility.

Despite this, Maurer said he was optimistic about the negotiations and reiterated there was no hurry to reach an agreement. 

"I am convinced of this: at some point we will find a common solution," he told the Schweiz am Wochenende newspaper.

Swiss-EU relations are currently governed by 100 separate accords. Talks have been underway to formalise relations between the two since 2014 and hit an impasse this summer.

The framework agreement under discussion covers five of the larger bilateral deal: free movement of persons, mutual recognition on conformity assessment, agricultural products, air transport and land transport.

Measures related to the free movement of persons have been a major sticking point. 


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