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Switzerland ratifies bilateral accords with EU

The Swiss government has formally ratified seven bilateral accords with the European Union. The treaties mainly cover trade issues, and were approved in a referendum in Switzerland last May.

The Swiss European Integration Bureau said on Monday that the papers were handed over in Brussels.

The parliaments of all 15 EU member states have to ratify the accords before they can come into effect. But only Austria has so far approved them.

Switzerland had hoped the accords would be approved this year so the treaty could take effect from January. But the Integration Bureau said this was unlikely before the middle of 2001 because of delays in EU member states.

Several countries still have reservations about one of the accords, covering the free movement of people.

The treaty also covers such issues as air and road transport, agricultural trade, research and public procurement.

Switzerland is intending to go ahead with the introduction of a heavy goods vehicle tax on January 1, despite the failure of the EU to ratify the accords before then.

swissinfo with agencies

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