The cabinet has appointed Jacques de Watteville as its top negotiator as part of a new strategy for talks between Switzerland and the European Union.
His task is to coordinate the different bilateral dossiers, including the thorny issue of immigration quotas for EU citizens approved by Swiss voters in February 2014.
“It is a difficult task,” said Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter during a news conference on Wednesday. He added the aim was to achieve a balanced result in negotiations with Brussels on issues including energy, financial services and research.
De Watteville, former Swiss ambassador to the EU, is currently secretary of state in the finance ministry.
“It is an enormous challenge,” the 64-year-old senior diplomat said. “But we have no choice, we have to succeed. I’m determined to defend the interests of our country.”
He said he wanted to achieve a result in negotiations with Brussels that would allow Switzerland to tackle concerns about immigration while also maintaining previous packages of bilateral treaties with the 28-nation bloc.
The cabinet is due to present a bill to parliament early next year to implement the immigration curbs.
Urs Geiser, swissinfo.ch