Switzerland and the European Union have agreed to step up negotiations to break a deadlock over plans to re-introduce immigration quotas.
Economics Minister Johann Schneider-Ammann, who holds the rotating Swiss presidency this year, told the Swiss News Agency that intense talks at a technical level were needed over the next few weeks to find a solution acceptable to both sides.
He was speaking after a meeting with the president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, on the sidelines of a summit of European and Asian heads of state and government leaders in Mongolia on Saturday.
Schneider-Ammann said the EU delegation had made it clear that Britain’s decision to leave the EU had complicated negotiations with Switzerland.
However, both Schneider-Ammann and Juncker stressed the common interest in “consolidating and further developing the bilateral path”, a statement said.
A new high-level meeting is scheduled for September 19.
The government has until August to prepare a bill for parliament to discuss in order to implement immigration limits next February, following a nationwide vote in 2014.
Brussels has repeatedly said it is not willing to tolerate a breach of one of its key policy tenets, the free movement of people.
Switzerland is not a member of the 28-nation bloc, but over the past 15 years it has concluded a series of bilateral agreements on transport, trade, research, procurement and free access to the labour market.
The EU is Switzerland’s main trading partner, but notably rightwing political parties have warned of closer ties with Brussels.
swissinfo.ch and agencies