Request for EU membership remains shelved

The Senate has rejected a renewed rightwing demand for the withdrawal of Switzerland’s membership application to the European Union.

This content was published on June 7, 2011 minutes and agencies

A majority argued such a move would jeopardise ongoing negotiations on bilateral treaties with Brussels.

However, members of the rightwing Swiss People’s Party argued membership of the EU was not an option.

“It is time to finally close the backdoor to EU membership,” said Senator Maximilian Reimann during Monday’s debate.

Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey reiterated a withdrawal of the 20-year old request for formal negotiations about Swiss membership would cause irritation among EU members.

She said the shelved application had no longer any legal validity.

The other parliamentary chamber, the House of Representatives is set to discuss the future of bilateral ties with Brussels on June 9.

In December 1992, a thin majority of voters threw out Swiss membership in the European Economic Area Treaty – a halfway house to full membership.

Since then Switzerland has concluded about 20 major bilateral accords, covering labour, transport, customs, asylum and taxation of savings with its main trading partner. But Brussels indicated the policy of bilateral agreements had reached its limits.

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