EU in huge battle with Switzerland as Brussels facing another trade blow

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EU in huge battle with Switzerland as Brussels facing another trade blow

Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis claimed EU Commissioner Maros Sefcovic had misrepresented a meeting the pair had last week in a failed bid to

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Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis claimed EU Commissioner Maros Sefcovic had misrepresented a meeting the pair had last week in a failed bid to restart bilateral trade talks.

Mr Sefcovic told reporters after the meeting that the EU’s door remained open, but that “it takes two to tango”.

He added: “What we now need from Switzerland is the unambiguous political will to engage with us on the real issues that count and a credible timetable.

“In other words, any political dialogue must be focused and substantial.”

Responding on Tuesday to Mr Cassis’ criticism, the EU Commissioner told Politico: “I think I was absolutely fair in describing what we discussed in our private meeting.”

The EU is demanding Switzerland shows in detail how it intends to further develop its relations with the bloc as soon as January.

But Mr Cassis has already made it clear that he would hardly be able to present the EU with a concrete plan until the pair next meets in Davos for the World Economic Forum.

Brussels has been pushing for a decade for a treaty that would sit atop a patchwork of bilateral accords and have the Swiss routinely adopt changes to single market rules.

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The Swiss government aims to deploy transitional measures to make up for the funding shortfalls.

In May, Switzerland walked out of talks to replace its bilateral agreement with an overarching framework agreement with Brussels to manage their relationship.

Bern said the pact threatened its sovereignty and ability to protect its labour market.

The move was branded by some as Switzerland’s “Brexit moment”.

Switzerland has never been an EU member and rejected joining the European Economic Area in a referendum in 1992.

But it has enjoyed almost full access to the EU’s single market through a series of 120 bilateral agreements and is a member of the bloc’s Schengen passport-free travel area.

The country has also been largely aligned with Brussels on a vast array of economic and legal matters.



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