The Swiss are increasingly sceptical about the benefits of closer ties with the European Union, according to a survey by a scientific institute in Bern. The finding comes as the Swiss government is negotiating a second round of bilateral agreements with Brussels.
Swiss support for EU membership has dropped 10 per cent from 34 per cent in October 2000, said Gfs, the institute which published the study.
Of the 1,027 French- and German-speaking Swiss polled in June, only 24 per cent were in favour of fast-track negotiations for Swiss membership of the EU.
According to the survey, 42 per cent said they were against imposing a time deadline for accession, compared to 35 per cent almost one year ago. One quarter of those polled said they were in favour of abandoning the membership efforts altogether, up from 21 per cent.
A majority of Swiss believe that seeking agreement on a series of bilateral accords is the right track to pursue.
In a nationwide poll last March, the Swiss rejected the "Yes to Europe" initiative calling on the government to enter immediate fast-track membership talks with the EU. But the Gfs institute pointed out that the outcome of the vote was not a rejection of EU membership in principle.
No less than 56 per cent of Swiss see the country having to make unpalatable concessions to fall in line with EU transport requirements. Sixty-seven per cent of those polled said they were in favour of Bern's strategy of building alpine rail tunnels in order to transfer increased heavy goods traffic onto trains.
Nearly one quarter of the Swiss surveyed said they were prepared to make concessions in tax policy in the event of accession. If this were to take place, 49 per cent said they believed the Euro should replace the Swiss franc.
swissinfo with agencies