22nd Apr 2019

Swiss hopeful of concluding EU deal this year

The Swiss foreign minister Micheline Calmy-Rey believes it is "very realistic" that negotiations on the second set of Swiss bilateral agreements with the European Union could be concluded by December.

She met with the Italian foreign minister Franco Frattini on Monday (8 September) in Rome.

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Bern has been negotiating with the EU for more than a year to become an associate member of both the Schengen and the Dublin agreements on crime and asylum.

The Swiss foreign minister is also due to travel to Berlin and London in October as part of the Swiss government's ongoing efforts to speed up negotiations.

Mr Frattini declared on behalf of the European Union presidency to be in favour of speeding up the negotiations with Switzerland.

The EU on its side, would like to persuade Switzerland to end its banking secrecy and agree to the automatic exchange of information on savings as part of an EU drive against tax evasion and fraud.

October elections to focus on EU relations

The right wing Swiss People's Party said on Monday (8 September) the question of whether Switzerland should join the European Union is the most important issue in October's general election.

"The general elections are European elections", Ueli Maurer, president of the People's Party said, according to Neue Zürcher Zeitung.

The People's Party fears membership of the EU will seriously jeopardise neutrality, lead to job losses, undermine banking secrecy and destabilise the Swiss franc.

Referendum turned down EU membership

The Swiss government has said EU membership is a clear foreign policy goal and that it wants a decision by 2007 for when negotiations for membership should begin.

But the Swiss voters overwhelmingly turned down an initiative, by referendum in March 2001, which called for immediate talks on membership to the EU.

Instead, a first set of bilateral accords between the EU and Switzerland were generated and came into effect.

EU fails to reach agreement on savings tax

EU Financial Ministers on Tuesday failed to reach an agreement on the savings tax accord which has been held hostage for almost a year due to disagreements with Switzerland. As the 2002-year-end deadline looms, the Ecofin ministers will convene an extraordinary Council meeting "before Christmas" to seek an agreement with the Swiss. If a deal is not struck in December, the EU could see the collapse of its plans.

Tensions mount over Kosovo-Serbia deal

Serbia will never recognise Kosovo, Serbia's foreign minister has said, as the Western Balkans heads into a new period of turbulence.


EU should brace for a more authoritarian Erdogan

The new blend of religious nationalism will be more anti-West and anti-EU, as Brussels has anything but leverage on Turkey. The first signs of this strong rhetoric are already visible.

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