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High stakes Swiss export industry backs EU framework deal

Hans Hess (centre) head of Swissmem. Peter Dietrich (director Swissmen behind)

Hans Hess (centre) says the time is right for Switzerland to agree an umbrella deal with the EU.

(Keystone)

Switzerland’s largest industrial employer, the Association of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering Industries, has come out in favour of a controversial accord, covering relations with the European Union.

Hans Hess, president of Swissmem, said the draft agreement was tailor-made for Switzerland.

“I don’t think we can negotiate a better deal in three or four years,” Hess told the Neue Zürcher Zeitung newspaper.

He pledged to fight to maintain the system of bilateral treaties between the EU and non-member Switzerland, adding that Switzerland’s export industry was relying on access to the European market.

Hess said the framework accord also ensured legal certainty and the prospect of negotiating further deals, notably in the electricity sector.

He added that the price to pay for Switzerland is too high in case no agreement can be reached.

Hess appealed to the trade unions and other associations to reconsider their opposition, particularly over salary protection, in the light of the overall interest of the country.

His comments come after a controversial non-decision by the government on the framework deal earlier this month. Instead the document was put to a public consultation before it will be submitted to parliament.

The seven-member government was split over the deal and did not take position.

Ongoing debate Framing the terms for future Swiss-EU relations

On Wednesday, the Swiss government once again debated the potential institutional framework agreement between Switzerland and the European Union (EU).

swissinfo.ch/ug

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