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26 May, 2021 16:15

Switzerland ends 7 years of treaty negotiations with EU over disagreements on 'key aspects'

Switzerland ends 7 years of treaty negotiations with EU over disagreements on 'key aspects'

The Swiss government has said it will abandon seven years of negotiations for a framework agreement with the EU, arguing Brussels had not met its conditions for the deal, which would have simplified relations between the pair.

Switzerland’s Federal Council, its ruling executive, announced the decision to scrap efforts to ink the much-delayed accord at a press conference on Wednesday following a cabinet meeting.

It “concluded that there remain substantial differences between Switzerland and the EU on key aspects of the agreement.”

The framework agreement was intended as an all-encompassing treaty to replace the more than 120 individual bilateral agreements Switzerland currently has with the 27-member European trading bloc.

The disagreements centered on three key issues, on which Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis told reporters the government could not afford to make further concessions.

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These included state aid, wage protection and EU citizens’ access to Swiss benefits, with the latter two matters proving especially difficult to reach a consensus.

The Federal Council said it hoped to launch a “political dialogue” with the EU to develop future relations and that Switzerland should continue to remain a “reliable and committed partner” of the bloc.

The European Commission said in a statement that it acknowledged Switzerland’s decision but it “regrets” the move.

The EU’s executive said that, without the framework agreement, existing bilateral treaties “will inevitably age,” including the 50-year-old Free Trade Agreement, which is already “not up to speed.”

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