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Switzerland Consults On Negotiation Methods With EU

by Ulrika Lomas, LawAndTax-News.com, Brussels

26 August 2013


The Swiss Federal Council has adopted draft terms of reference for negotiations on a bilateral basis with member countries of the European Union (EU) on institutional matters, such as trade and tax agreements.

In June 2012, the Federal Council instructed the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs to draw up draft terms of reference for negotiations with the European Union on such, and the Federal Council has now sent that draft to the Foreign Affairs Committees and the cantons, for consultation.

It was said that the bilateral approach "remains the best instrument of European policy Switzerland has at its disposal to defend its interests with respect to the EU," which continues to be Switzerland's most important trading partner by far. Based on a matrix of around 20 or so main bilateral agreements and about 100 other sectoral agreements, it ensures access for Swiss business to the single European market.

The Council confirmed that, "in order to preserve what Switzerland has gained, the bilateral approach must be renewed, taking care to safeguard Swiss independence and prosperity, as well as ensuring access to the market." Discussions at the national level and with Switzerland's European partners have enabled the country to outline a number of technical and legal solutions.

In the opinion of the Council, the bilateral approach preserves Switzerland's autonomy as a non-EU member state, and does not entail automatic adoption of the acquis communautaire – the accumulated legislation, legal acts and court decisions which constitute the cumulative body of EU law. The incorporation of any new acquis in a bilateral agreement must be decided by Switzerland in full accordance with its domestic procedures.

TAGS: tax | law | agreements | legislation | Switzerland | trade | European Union (EU) | Europe

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