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Parliamentary committee in Strasbourg wants swift ratification of bilaterals

A key committee of the European Parliament in Strasbourg has called for swift ratification of the bilateral accords between Switzerland and the European Union.

This content was published on February 24, 2000 - 14:21

A key committee of the European Parliament in Strasbourg has called for swift ratification of the bilateral accords between Switzerland and the European Union.

The committee said on Wednesday it wanted a debate and vote in parliament before a referendum in Switzerland on the accords on May 21. However, the committee for industry, trade, research and energy cannot make a formal recommendation to the parliament until a decision in the EU Council of Ministers.

The issue has been blocked for months at the ministerial level because of internal EU disputes. The committee called on the Council to explain why it was taking so long, and to speed up the process.

The committee's rapporteur, Italy's Massimo Carraro, said he wanted the committee to debate the treaties and make a recommendation to parliament next month. He said that if parliament could ratify the treaties before May 21, it would send a "positive signal" to the Swiss public.

Analysts, however, say Carraro's timetable is unrealistic. But the strong support for the bilateral treaties in the committee, and its efforts to put pressure on the Council of Ministers are signs that the accords will have little difficulty gaining the approval of the assembly in Strasbourg.

The seven bilateral treaties were clinched in December 1998 after five years of negotiations. They cover key issues such as the free movement of people and transport.

From staff and wire reports

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