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The European Union and Switzerland launch negotiations to deepen bilateral relations

18.03.2024 23:10 "Agro Perspectiva" (Kyiv) President Ursula von der Leyen and President of the Swiss Confederation Viola Amherd launched today the negotiations on a broad package of measures to deepen and expand the EU-Switzerland relationship.

This follows the adoption of the Swiss and EU negotiating mandates on 8and 12March 2024, respectively. The two mandates authorise the Commission and Switzerland to negotiate the package outlined in the Common Understanding, endorsed by the Swiss Federal Council and the European Commission in November 2023.

The Common Understanding confirms both sides ambition to conclude the negotiation this year. The negotiating teams will meet tomorrow.

Mutual benefits of European and Swiss citizens and businesses

The negotiations aim at ensuring a level playing field for competition between EU and Swiss companies operating within the EU internal market and guarantee the protection of the rights of EU citizens working in Switzerland, including non-discrimination between citizens of different Member States.

Key elements of the package include:

Institutional provisions to be included in existing and future agreements with Switzerland related to the EU internal market, providing for dynamic alignment with EU law, its uniform interpretation and application, and dispute settlement;

State aid provisions in several existing and in future agreements with Switzerland related to the internal market;

An agreement allowing for Switzerlands participation in EU programmes, including Horizon Europe;

An agreement on Switzerlands regular and permanent financial contribution to social and economic cohesion in the EU as a counterpart to its participation in the internal market;

A relaunch of negotiations towards agreements on electricity, food safety and health and on the participation of Switzerland in the European Union Agencies for the Space Programme and for Railways.

Moreover, following the launch of the negotiations, the Commission opens the possibility to Swiss entities to apply for the European Research Council calls opening in 2024. Swiss applicants will be treated as if Switzerland is an associated country from admissibility and eligibility to evaluation, up until the preparation of grant agreements.

The EU and Switzerland are close neighbours with strong cross border links. The EU is Switzerlands first trading partner, while Switzerland is the fourth largest partner for the EU. About one and a half million EU citizens live in Switzerland, and around 450000Swiss citizens live in the EU. A few hundred thousand of EU citizens cross the border daily to work.

Between March 2022and November 2023, the EU and Switzerland were engaged in exploratory discussions on the future of their bilateral relations. On 15December 2023, the Commission and the Federal Council published the Common Understanding that provides a written record of the outcome of the exploratory talks.

The EU mandate has been agreed in line with this Common Understanding, reflected in the Commissions recommendation for a mandate, presented on 20December 2023.

The mandate builds on the 2014mandate for an institutional framework agreement as well as earlier mandates for agreements on electricity, health, food safety and the participation of Switzerland in the European Union Agencies for the Space Programme and for Railways.

Source: commission.europa.eu

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