New lobby group demands end to Swiss-EU deadlock

Brussels and Bern have been unable to reinvigorate talks for the last two years. © Keystone / Peter Klaunzer

A number of influential Swiss figures are backing the launch of a group called Progresuisse, which hopes to stimulate a new era of “constructive” relations between Switzerland and the European Union.

This content was published on February 28, 2021 - 11:22

Representatives of politics, science, academia and business are concerned that high-level political talks between Brussels and Bern have remained stalled for the last two years.

Switzerland is not a member state of the EU but has a host of bilateral treaties that grant it preferential access to the European bloc. In 2014, Brussels demanded that the sprawling treaties be anchored to a set of rules known as a “framework agreement”. A deal was reached in 2018, but it stalled in the face of Swiss domestic criticism and has never been ratified. Brussels has rejected Swiss pleas to re-negotiate parts of the treaty.

Progresuisse was launched on Sunday with the intention of generating public debate and to put pressure on politicians to end the stalemate.

“The bilateral path is the golden means to safeguard Switzerland’s interests in Europe, which must be consolidated and further developed,” the movement’s website statesExternal link. “No framework agreement is not an option for Switzerland.”

Former government ministers Doris Leuthard and Joseph Deiss have thrown their weight behind Progresuisse, along with high ranking academics and well-known figures in industry and banking.

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