Swiss Minister Moves to Break Deadlock in Framework Talks with EU
Switzerland’s Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis has come up with a new initiative in an attempt to end the current deadlock in the ongoing talks for a new Swiss – EU institutional agreement.
The negotiations, which are supposed to iron out a set of bilateral issues in the Switzerland – EU relations but have dragged on, are essential for guaranteeing Switzerland’s access to the European Common Market.
Cassis is set to reveal on Wednesday a deal designed to break the deadlock, reports TagesAnzeiger, as cited by The Local Switzerland.
The gist of the Cassis initiative boils down to Brussels accepting certain limitations on the say of the European Court of Justice, the EU’s highest judicial body, in Switzerland’s affairs, while Bern is to give up some of its special controls on EU citizens working in the country.
Under the Swiss Foreign Minister’s plan, disputes between Brussels and Bern over new EU legislation will be tackled by an arbitration panel, rather than the ECJ.
Switzerland’s concession concerns its so-called eight-day rule under which foreign companies are obliged to notify the Swiss authorities no less than 8 days in advance before performing operations in the country so that the latter can make sure no cheaper laborers are being brought in, thus dumping on the high pay of the Swiss citizens.
While the eight-day rule in question technically contradicts the principle of free movement of the EU, Switzerland’s proposed concession does not provide for doing away with it but with potentially shortening the eight-day period.
Switzerland’s Foreign Minister Cassis must still secure the support of the Cabinet in Bern for his compromise proposals. However, Swiss unions have already expressed criticism, insisting that Brussels prioritizes the establishment of a uniform economic area over workers’ rights.
With Brexit set for March 29, 2019, the course of the EU – Swiss negotiations is likely to be seen as an indicator on the future of the relations between the European Union and the UK after the latter leaves the former.
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