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Juncker: EU-Swiss talks must go on

Jean-Claude Juncker, in his role as European Commission President, in 2019 Keystone / Stephanie Lecocq

Former European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker says Bern and Brussels need to reach a deal on their framework agreement. He made the comments ahead of key talks in Brussels on Friday between the two sides. 

This content was published on April 23, 2021 - 10:57
Keystone-SDA/Tages-Anzeiger/SWI swissinfo.ch/ilj

Swiss president Guy Parmelin arrived for talks with Juncker’s successor, Ursula von der Leyen, on Friday morning in the hope of breaking a negotiating deadlock with the European Union.

Shortly before the meeting started, von der Leyen told reporters that she would like to have a constructive discussion. The agreement would give relations with Switzerland a stable and coherent framework, she said.

Parmelin said he looked forward to the talks. Until now discussions had not always been easy, but the EU and Switzerland still had good and valuable relations. "We will therefore do everything we can to consolidate our different positions," Parmelin underlined.

Switzerland is not a member of the EU, but it does have a set of bilateral agreements with it. Currently both sides are trying to finalise an institutional “framework agreement” aimed at simplifying future ties between the two sides. But talks have run into an impasse. Last week Brussels expressed its frustration at Switzerland in a leaked briefing, accusing it of time-wasting and failing to take responsibility in finding a solution.

Juncker's view

Former commission president Juncker has also been giving his view. “The European Commission never leaves the negotiating table,” said Juncker in an iExternal linknterview with the Tages-Anzeiger External linkon Thursday. He added he would very disappointed if Switzerland broke off talks.

Juncker urged the two sides to come to a rapid agreement to avoid any situations similar to the EU freezing out the Swiss stock market in 2019. “This is not desirable,” Juncker said.

On the EU’s frustration ahead of the talks, Juncker said that Switzerland could not “test the EU’s patience forever”. He was against the idea of granting concessions in exchange for higher financial contributions. “It’s wrong to think you can solve these problems with money,” Juncker said.

A no-deal would only bring negative effects for both sides, he added. The problems should be surmountable, he said.

The 66-year-old Juncker was European Commission president from 2014-2019.

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