N. Peter Kramer’s Weekly Column
As soon as the agreement between the UK and the EU was concluded the end of December, the Swiss analysed the Brexit text for elements negotiated by the UK which Switzerland did not get from the EU. And yes, they found two things: the first which made the Swiss jealous is that the European Court of Justice (representatives of the 27 EU memberstates) does not play any role in disputes between the EU and the UK; the second is that the Brits do not have to follow the rules of the EU internal market ‘dynamically’. Switzerland on the other hand must do so.
Brexit envy in Switzerland started with a razor-sharp comment in the leading newspaper Tages-Anzeiger, who stated that Brexit was also a historic moment for Switzerland: ‘Finally, after years of isolation in the centre of Europe, we have also become more free. We will never again be alone against the EU, but with Great Britain; there is now a giant who pursues the same interests as us, the dwarf behind seven mountains’.
Switzerland, as a non-EU country, has concluded over the years more than 120 bilateral but loose treaties with ‘Brussels’. It makes the relationship quite unclear and unstable. If either side cancels one agreement, the others will also be cancelled. Effectively, the EU forced Switzerland into a framework agreement. But the Swiss do not want to sign that agreement. Social partners, trade unions, farmers, the employers’ union and other groups are demanding changes to the agreement, but ‘Brussels’, still frustrated by the outcome of the Brexit negotiations, is obstinately refusing.
Switzerland is entitled to receive a fair diplomatic approach from the EU, not arrogant dictates based on frustration and to cover up own incompetence.