Switzerland is laying out its priorities for what it’s future relationship with the EU will look like and at the top-of-the-list includes single market access for banking and financial services.
The neutral nation has refused to join the European Union, but is geographically surrounded by other members of the bloc. It has signed up to the principle of freedom of movement in exchange for its trade access and has around 100 different agreements with the EU covering a wide aspects of issues. In November 2017, the EU decided to continue their support of the “equivalence” condition for the Swiss stock market for an unlimited period. However, in December the European Commission, headed by Jean-Claude Juncker, changed tack and limited the condition to one year only.The tactic is seen as a way of forcing Switzerland to move forward with negotiations for a new framework agreement on bilateral relations.
But Switzerland is holding firm. Swiss President Alain Berset has warned the EU that Switzerland will not be pressured into securing tighter links between Brussels and Bern and has even threatened to retaliate against the EU. He has been backed by the finance minister’s of 11 different EU countries including Germany, Austria and Britain, who have co-signed a letter to Brussels arguing that the change in stance should only occur “in very exceptional cases.” Many argue that Switzerland should await the outcome of British-EU Brexit negotiations before signing any new accord. These tensions have not helped the European Project, which is struggling to gain any traction in Switzerland.