Switzerland has made a significant step toward shaping its future relationship with the European Union, with plans to determine its negotiating position by the year's end. The Swiss government revealed this intention on Wednesday as it proceeds with efforts to regulate its ties with the EU, its largest trading partner.
Since April 2022, Bern and Brussels have engaged in exploratory discussions aimed at finding innovative ways to manage the relationship between Switzerland, a non-EU member, and the European Union.
The relationship had encountered a setback in 2021 when Switzerland decided not to proceed with a 2018 treaty that would have replaced over 100 long-standing bilateral agreements. In light of this, the Swiss cabinet has evaluated the outcomes of the initial exploratory talks and has now signaled the conclusion of this phase, preparing to move forward by establishing a negotiating mandate.
The Swiss cabinet stated, "By the end of the year, the Federal Council will decide whether to adopt the draft negotiating mandate and submit it for consultation." The government has also communicated this decision to the European Commission.
The proposed negotiations encompass a range of crucial areas, including agreements related to electricity, food safety, health, and Switzerland's participation in EU programs, notably the Horizon Europe research initiative. Additionally, it outlines potential solutions within existing agreements, such as those concerning single market participation, including the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons.
This development reflects Switzerland's determination to ensure stability and cooperation in its relationship with the European Union, highlighting the importance of these negotiations for both parties involved.