Swiss optimistic about Brexit effect

The flags of the EU (left) and the United Kingdom at the British Embassy in Bern, on June 24, the day after the referendum Keystone

The Swiss believe that the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union will have a positive effect for Switzerland, both for the economy and in giving the country a stronger  bargaining position.

This content was published on August 21, 2016 - 12:37

The results of the report, carried out by the gfs.bern research instituteExternal link as part of the Credit Suisse Worry Barometer 2016, largely go against warnings from observers and experts that Brexit’s effects would be negative for Switzerland.

In all, 55% of respondents believe that benefits are likely or could even be major for the Swiss economy, according to the findings which were published on Sunday.External link

And 54% think Brexit will have a positive impact on negotiations between Switzerland and the EU.

Switzerland is not a member of the EU but does have bilateral agreements with the body. However, the relationship has been fundamentally shaken by the Swiss population’s acceptance of an anti-immigration initiative in February 2014.

This would set caps on the number of EU citizens working in Switzerland, going against the EU’s cherished freedom of movement. Negotiations are currently stalled on how the implement the initiative.

Brexit aware

"People are highly aware that Brexit has economic and political consequences for Switzerland," said Lukas Golder, co-head of the gfs.bern research institute, in a Credit Suisse statement.

This was shown by the unusually low number of participants who had no opinion about Brexit’s economic and political consequences for the country (9% and 8% respectively), the statement said.

The survey was conducted over a three-week period and found that the level of optimism rose considerably as more time passed after the referendum, which took place on June 23, 2016.

Only around one third of respondents saw the situation differently: with 8% seeing major disadvantages for the Swiss economy and 28% expecting at least potential disadvantages. For the negotiations, the negative values were similar: 9% saw major disadvantages and 29% anticipated potential disadvantages.

Surprising result

Optimism was evident among respondents of all party affiliations and political points of view.

It was only slightly higher on the right-leaning side of the political spectrum than the left and all values were over 50%. This result was “surprising”, said Golder.

There were also no real major differences were apparent in terms of age of the respondents, although younger people - the ones likely to feel the long-term consequences of Brexit - were slightly more pessimistic on the whole.

Nevertheless, among the youngest group of respondents (18 to 39 years), 55% thought there were major or likely benefits for the economy, with 50% optimistic over negotiations with the EU. For 40-64 year-olds, the percentage rose to 57% for both issues. 

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