Switzerland’s chief negotiator with the European Union believes further negotiations with Brussels will be possible on a controversial accord regulating bilateral relations.
Roberto Balzaretti said the EU might be willing to accept proposed exceptions for Switzerland under certain conditions.
He also said Brussels would have to take into account the result of a wide-ranging consultation procedure among political parties, the cantons as well as organisations and institutions about the proposed deal.
The government is due to launch the process officially next week.
The EU has repeatedly excluded further negotiations with Switzerland on the framework accord following six years of negotiations.
Parliament is due to discuss the deal before a possible nationwide vote.
On Friday, the Swiss finance minister and current Swiss President, Ueli Maurer, appealed on the EU to be patient because of the three-month consultation.
Speaking during a visit to neighbouring Austria, which is a member of the 28-nation bloc, Maurer warned economic pressure might increase opposition against a deal further.
He said it was unlikely that an agreement is possible before 2020 given the parliamentary elections in EU countries as well as in Switzerland later this year.
The EU has given Switzerland until July to decide whether it wants to accept the deal, but all major parties as well as the trade unions have strong reservations, or they reject the accord outright.
The contentious issues include a demand to ease restrictions for EU companies applying for assignments, social security benefits for cross-border workers as well as government subsidies.
swissinfo.ch with SRF/urs